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Full text of "Dominican monastic search"

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Volume 11 Fall/Winter 1992 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

CARLI: Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois 



http://archive.org/details/dominicanmonasti11unse 



DOMINICAN MONASTIC SEARCH 
Volume 1 1 Fall/Winter 1 992 



DOMINICAN MONASTIC SEARCH is published by the Conference of the Nuns 
of the Order of Preachers of the United States of America. The Conference is an 
organization of independent monasteries whose purpose is to foster the monastic 
contemplative life of the nuns in the spirit of Saint Dominic. 

PRESIDENT 

Sr. Mary Thomas, O.P. (Farmington) 

EDITORIAL BOARD 

Sr. Mary Paul, O.P. (Washington), Coordinator 
Sr. Claire, O.P. (North Guilford), Sr. Mary Thomas, O.P. (Buffalo) 

BUSINESS MANAGER 

Sr. Cynthia Mary, O.P. (Summit) 

COORDINATOR OF CONFERENCE PUBUCATIONS 

Sr. Mary Martin, O.P., (Summit) 

DOMINICAN MONASTIC SEARCH is a spiritual and theological review 
written by the nuns. Its purpose is to foster the Dominican monastic contemplative 
life by the sharing of insights gained from study and prayer. It is published once a 
year as a service to the nuns. It is also available to the wider Dominican Family and 
others upon request. A donation of $8.00 to aid in the cost of printing would be 
appreciated, when possible. 

Contributions to this review should be researched and prepared with concern 
for literary and intellectual quality. Manuscripts submitted should be clearly typed, 
single spaced, on one side of the paper only. The deadline for manuscripts is 
September 1st of each year. Minor editing will be done at the discretion of the 
editors. If major changes are desired, these will be effected in dialogue with the 
authors. The editors, in consultation with the Conference Council, reserve the right 
to reject inappropriate manuscripts, though reasons will be given to the author with 
courtesy and encouragement. 

Contributions should be sent to Sr. Marv Paul, O.P., Monasterv of St. Dominic, 
4901 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 2001 1. 



Conference of Nuns of the Order of Preachers of the United States of America 

All Rights Reserved 




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TABU OF CONTiNTS 



Editorial 1 

Assembly Presentations 

The Dominican Vision: Roots of Our Monastic Life ... 
Integration of its Elements 

Sister Mary Magdalen, O.P. (Newark) 2 

The Reality of the Lived Experience: Areas to be Explored 

Sister Mary of Mercy (Farmington Hills) 11 

Reclaiming the Dominican Vision for the 21st Century: 
A Challenge for Aging Contemplative Communities 

Brother Ignatius Perkins, O.P 20 

Work: Its Meaning and Value for Contemporary Dominican 
Monastic Life 

Sister Mary Magdalen, O.P. (Farmington Hills) 27 

Pursuing Communion in Government: Role of Community Chapter 

Malachy O'Dwyer, O.P 38 

Prayer, Study, and the Life of Withdrawal 

William Columban Barron, O.P 51 

Dominican Monastic Tradition 

A Parable of the Word 

Sister Lee, O.P. (Bronx) 73 

Dominican Vision for the Future: A Reflection 

Sister Jean Marie, O.P. (North Guilford) 74 

Work and the Inroads of Activism 

Sister Mary Amata, O.P. (Washington) 81 

The Workaholic Syndrome and Original Sin 

Sister Maria Agnes, O.P. (Summit) 86 

Formed by the Word, Taught by the Spirit, We Dare to Study 

Sister Susan Heinemann, O.P. (North Guilford) 100 

Theological Study in the Life of Dominican Contemplative Nuns 

Sister Mary of the Trinity, O.P. (Farmington Hills) Ill 

The Work of the Master's Hand: Letters and Vision of 
Father Damian Byrne, O.P 

Sister Mary Regina, O.P. (Farmington Hills) 120 



Journey to Intimacy 

Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart, O.P. 

(W. Springfield) 125 

My Eyes are Ever Towards the Lord 

Sister Mary Catharine of Jesus, O.P (Summit) 131 

A Never Fading Vision 

Sister Mary Emmanuel, O.P. (W. Springfield) 137 

God Who Reveals Himself 

Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart, O.P. (Menlo Park) 141 

Contemplative Religious Women: The American Situation 
Twenty-Five Years Later 

Sister Mary of the Precious Blood, O.P. (Buffalo) 144 

Poetry and Book Reviews 

The Nail 

Sister Mary Angela, O.P. (Bronx) 151 

Genesis 

Sister Mary Ann of Jesus, O.P. (Fatima) 153 

Alive in Truth 

Sister Mary Regina, O.P. (Farmington Hills) 158 

The Book of Revelation: The Open Book of Prophecy 

Sister Lee, O.P. (Bronx) 159 

Art Credits 



Frontispiece and facing pages 110 and 136 

Sister Mary Michael, O.P. (North Guilford) 

Section dividers and page 26 

Sister Mary Grace, O.P. (Washington) 



EDITORIAL 

Reclaiming the Dominican Vision for the 21st Century , 
the theme of the recent General Assembly of the Conference, 
also provides the theme for the present issue of DMS . In 
what has become a tradition with DMS, we reprint here the 
papers delivered by the nuns and friars who were invited to 
speak at the Assembly. We do so in order to share their 
thoughts more widely, hoping thereby to enkindle in the 
reader the same enthusiasm that fired the hearers and 
sparked such vivid discussions among them. 

When the theme of the Assembly was announced last 
spring, the editorial board invited the sisters in our 
communities to write for DMS papers on any of the topics to 
be addressed at the Assembly. A number of sisters responded 
to the invitation with the fine presentations included here 
under the heading Dominican Monastic Tradition. They bear 
witness to how vital the Dominican vision is in our 
monasteries and how keen our sisters' zeal is for its 
preservation . 

With this issue, we welcome a new editorial board: Sr. 
Mary Paul (Washington), Coordinator; Sr. Claire (North 
Guilford); Sr. Mary Thomas (Buffalo); and Sr. Cynthia Mary 
(Summit), Business Manager. May God prosper and reward 
their labors on behalf of the whole Conference. 

Sr. Mary Martin, O.P. 
Summit 



ASSEMBLY 



THE DOMINICAN VISION 

ROOTS OF OUR MONASTIC LIFE ... INTEGRATION OF ITS ELEMENTS 

Sister Mary Magdalen (Newark) 

I begin with an introductory note in regard to the theme of our 
Assembly: "Reclaiming the Dominican Vision for the Twenty-first 
Century." Those who chose the theme will agree with all of us who 
lecture that what we are engaged in is not reclaiming the Dominican 
Vision as of something we have lost, but in the sense of claiming 
again, more deeply and more awarely, what we already have and see; 
and doing this in the context of our sense of responsibility to 
those who will follow us in the 21st century. It is in this sense 
I will speak of claiming / reclaiming. 

Since this is the first of our lectures, it seems that before 
examining Dominican Vision in detail we might profitably spend some 
minutes reflecting on the notion of vision in general - as it might 
apply to what we want to do in the course of these days together. 
Understanding what a vision is, does, and can do, will solidly base 
our listening and discussing during the next few days. Identifying 
and expanding the vision we already have will be useful in 
orientating courses of action we may decide to follow. 

Simply from the point of view of ourselves as rational beings, 
we need vision to reach out to ever greater fulfillment of our 
possibilities. There is an element of vision in all the worthwhile 
things we do, both individually and communally. The degree to which 
we keep it before us can significantly influence the quality of our 
act ions . 

A clearer vision of what our life should be will ordinarily 
mean a keener awareness of what choices we should make, what courses 
of action we ought to pursue, and how and where we are falling 
short. Clarity of vision likewise provides an accurate standard 
when we pause to evaluate our life and activity. On the other hand, 
lack of vision - in the sense we are speaking about it here - 
threatens us with missing the mark, with boredom or empty routine. 
And, unfortunately, because living without an impelling vision is 
not intrinsically evil we do not always sense the danger of futility 
lurking in a vision-less life. 

All this is approaching our subject from a psychological angle, 
but not without some application in a group gathered like ours for 
mutual help in delineating and reclaiming its common vision. 

An additional point one could profitably make is the effect of 
permeating the course of our day with this alertness of vision. 
Keeping our inner eye bright with vision, the vision of what is 
really happening when we stand in praise at the Office, when we 
participate in the Mass or worship the Eucharist in private 
adoration, when we share with our sisters in the daily exchanges 



within community; ... maintaining a contemplative vision of reality 
as we respond to all the details of regular observance, to the 
discipline of manual labor or of some work of penance, and when we 
quietly accept the debility of sickness or aging; ... keeping the 
eyes of our mind and heart bright with vision in all this, means 
life! It means living in truth! It means wholeness! It is a 
primary aspect of integration - that within our own spirit. 

Moving beyond the psychological approach or, perhaps better. 
adding to it to consider ourselves as persons living under grace, 
persons in whom grace has taken the form of a specific vocation, we 
note an intrinsic connection between a clear-eyed, supernatural 
vision of our life and knowing where our life is rooted. This 
VISION and our ROOTS both have their ultimate reach into God. As we 
strain to expand our field of vision to possibilities beyond our own 
limited light, we are really stretching out to him and searching for 
his vision for our life. As we question more intently what 
constitutes the sustaining roots of our life and work, we have not 
gone far enough if we do not reach him, the ultimate Source of our 
life, its Key and Meaning - the One who reminds us: " Wi thout me you 
can do nothing," the One without whom it means nothing. 

This motif of vis ion-and-root s appears in God's selection and 
guidance of his Chosen People in the Old Testament. He kept holding 
up to them his vision for them; he kept reminding them of their 
roots - their human origins and background - and that their destiny 
was rooted in his Call and their response to his word. Through all 
the vicissitudes of their history they were involved in something so 
much greater than themselves: his vision and choice of mission for 
them - tied to his covenant with them and his plan of salvation for 
all people. There is a message here for us: Our call to the Order 
of Preachers gives us, too, a well-defined role in God's vision of 
salvation. As one of the Oakland Chapter documents puts it in a 
powerful line: We have "a vocation for all of humanity." (1) 

The theme of this Assembly is summoning us to take time out to 
look attentively at our roots as nuns of the Order of Preachers, to 
claim anew the vision which is our heritage, and to strengthen one 
another in safeguarding that vision for the nuns of tomorrow. 



As we turn our attention more directly to the Dominican Vision, 
the first thing I might say is that the Dominican Vision is not 
something we originate. We have been plunged into the midst of it! 

And there is one Dominican Vision - from the very beginning - 
down through many centuries, places, cultures, and persons. It was 
that vision which inspired and guided Dominic and the beginnings of 
the Order, and which for nearly eight centuries has perdured throush 
all the hazards of being grasped more or less clearly by each 
succeeding generation. We can summarize it by saying that God 
predestined the members of this Order to be persons whose lives 
would be spent in cherishing his word, in penetrating and being 



nourished by it; persons whose energies would be devoted to the 
service of that word being given to others. 

We, the nuns of the Order, may rightly claim and rejoice in 
what it offers us of holiness and apostolic f rui t fulness . Moreover, 
we have been assured that our role in the Order plays the "highest 
part" and is "of the greatest importance" in the attainment of the 
Order's purpose, because our contemplation and our life inasmuch as 
they are truly and properly Dominican are by their very nature 
ordered to the apostolate which the Dominican family exercises as a 
whole. (2) 

Here is a second aspect of integration for us: the integration 
of our personal life into the ideals and life and activity of the 
whole Dominican Family. It has multiple repercussions: on our 
personal growth in holiness, on the authenticity of Dominican Life 
in our monasteries, and - very importantly - on the vitality of the 
Order of Preachers as a whole. 

This consciousness of a radical link with and support of the 
other members of the Order is a facet of our vocation planted by God 
deep in the spirit of the individual nuns who comprise our 
communities. One who fails to advert to the fact of her insertion 
in the broader vision and purpose of the Order can be holy and 
fervent and fruitful in her pursuit of monastic contemplative life. 
But her life will lack something of what God intended for her when 
he called her to be a Dominican nun. That "something" is the 
energizing consciousness of involvement in a unique apostolic 
mission in the Church, and of an exhilarating fellowship with other 
women and men in carrying it out. 

Women seeking the enclosed contemplative life today will be 
attracted when they see in us such an awareness of our identity and 
of our involvement in something great. 

To understand who we are is critical 
for carrying us into the 21st century. 

Tracing its historical roots: ... This distinctive identity of 
ours comes into existence when our holy Father Dominic gathers women 
converts to the Catholic faith in the monastery of Blessed Mary of 
Prouille, and bonds them to himself and his earliest companions by 
associating their life of prayer and penance with his "holy 
preaching". We contemplate this beginning of our identity with 
reverence as something sacred transpiring: the insertion of delicate 
roots in the solid soil of an initial grace which conceals in its 
lowliness the dynamism of centuries of growth to come. 

I would like to linger for a few moments on the picture of 
these first women whom the Lord was inviting to be "free for God 
alone" while supporting by their prayer and penance the work in 
which Saint Dominic was engaged. ... There can be little doubt 
that their zeal for their way of life was constantly nourished by an 
awareness of their role in regard to the preaching of Dominic and 
his companions. With but slight exceptions, we know nothing more 



than the names of these eldest sisters of ours, but their lives 
furnish us a paradigm and a hope. ... A paradigm: Like us they 
were simply 'who they were', but before God they were women whom he 
had foreknown, predestined, and called to be part of a work so much 
more vast than they themselves could possibly have envisioned. -- 
And that is why they furnish us a hope: that we, like them, can 
transcend the insignificance of 'who we are of ourselves' and be 
catalysts to the fulfillment of the Order's mission in our own time. 

From these first sisters of ours to the present there is the 
impressive stretch of nearly eight hundred years in which tens of 
thousands of women faithfully lived the ideals of the Order, women 
in whom its vision was claimed and reclaimed: "Nuns of the Order of 
Preachers" in whom its tradition was made firm. 

In recent decades we have been blessed with a new understanding 
of who we are. Our new Constitutions place us in the midst of rich 
opportunities for growth in Dominican monastic contemplative life 
that were only dreamed of in previous decades. But it was precisely 
because there were those who dreamed of them that a door was opened 
for their coming to be. 

I am reminded of my visiting one of our monasteries a year or 
two after our Conference had been formed. A wonderful older nun - 
her face lit up - expressed with enthusiasm her feelings about the 
Conference: "It's just what I have dreamed of," she said. "It's an 
answer to prayer." ... Are there things we are hesitant to dream 
about and pray for - now - that might become just as possible and 
normal a few decades in the future - things that are quite 
consistent with the Dominican Vision as the 21st century overtakes 
us? 

A few indications of where these might develop can be found in 
movements in recent years: a new attention to our "oneness in 
diversity" in the concept of "Dominican Family"; the contribution of 
Dominican women in this family, and their presence and active 
participation at recent General Chapters; the exhortation from the 
recent Chapter in Mexico that the nuns from their contemplative 
identity be in solidarity with the priorities of the Order. (3) 
Among ourselves, there is the growing movement of our coming 
together for mutual support in ways new to our tradition where 
autonomy spelled isolat ion . 

I add one other - more interior - movement, viz the deepening 
of the quality of life in our monasteries. It is worth recalling 
that Master General Martin Gillet in his encyclical letter to the 
nuns on their [then] new Constitutions, sixty years ago, devotes a 
full half of the letter to encouraging the development of "The 
Mystical Life of the Nuns". It took forty years for Father Giliet's 
seminal and practical suggestions to be spelled out within the Nuns' 
Constitutions themselves. But when we look back on our tradition we 
find in our Dominican women saints a pronounced trait of mysticism 
in the best sense of that word. 



As we behold the wealth of opportunities at hand to deepen the 
quality of life in our monasteries, I dare to include in the legacy 
we may pass on to our sisters in the twenty-first century our 
c 1 aiming-anew of the mystical element in the life of the nuns. Our 
faithful response to this aspect of our call is among our best gifts 
to the Friars and to the whole Order. There is all the more reason 
for what I am saying, when one sometimes sees others - called like 
ourselves to canonical contemplative life - losing faith in their 
own charism and seeking validation for their life in elements 
foreign to it. 

I have digressed a bit, though I hope not without profit. Let 
us return to looking at the Dominican Vision - as it is concretized 
twenty-four hours of the day in our Constitutions. 

For nearly eight centuries the roots of monastic life have been 
essential supports of our identity within the Order and in the 
Church. Our intent to be free for God alone and to blend authentic 
community with silence and solitude are joined to our contemplative 
attitude toward work, the solemn celebration of the liturgy, works 
of penance, and our dedication to the word of God - through study as 
well as through lectio divina. 

The lecturers who will follow me will treat directly and 
extensively with many of these, and some other important elements in 
our Constitutions. So, for my part, I will consider some aspects 
that may be touched on only indirectly in later lectures 

The nuns on our new Commission which met in Rome this past 
Spring reported that they had found among the nuns, internationally, 
"... a common search for equilibrium in the elements that make up 
our life -- how to balance or integrate them into the life seen as a 
whole." (4) In the search for equilibrium and integration, I 
suggest that we can gather up and harmonize these elements and 
safeguard their balance by viewing our life under two basic, very 
familiar, and complementary aspects: being "free for God alone", and 
living all the gift and demand of community with "one mind and 
heart". Each of us can test the integration, the wholeness of our 
own life and that of our community, by asking, "How is community 
functioning among us? How free for God alone is each member?" -- 
Being free for God alone in one's personal life enables one to be a 
good all-around community person. The two factors are not separate 
in practice. If either in some way becomes a hindrance to the 
other, something is crying out for discernment! 

There are many ways of developing the theme of being free for 

God alone. -- Our last General Assembly did this thoroughly 

It is right that our communities be constantly solicitous for this 
primary freedom, and attentive to remove obstacles to it in 
community structures and activities. Ultimately, however, whatever 
my surroundings I must answer for my own life - deep in my heart - 
whether / am "free for God alone". Having said this, and because 
the theme of being free for God alone was so thoroughly developed 
previously, I would like now to offer some thoughts on its 



complementary factor in finding equilibrium and integration in 
living our Dominican Vision, viz COMMUNITY. 

The Oakland Chapter document "DE VITA COMMUNI" states firmly: 
"The call to community living is at the heart of our call to the 
Dominican Life." (5) 

We know how essential was the part that Community played in 
Saint Dominic's vision of the Order. From its Fundamental 
Constitution [VI] we learn that the structure of the Order as a 
religious society arises [not only] from its mission - a group of 
persons intent on a particular apostolic work - [but also] from 
fraternal communion. In our own Fundamental Constitution we read 
that the Nuns of the Order came into being when Dominic gathered a 
small group of women into a community intent on God in oneness of 
mind and heart. The regulations that Dominic drew up for both 
friars and nuns flowed out of their living together in community 
with a work to be done together for the Church. Thus their rule of 
life was, as it must always continue to be, not a sterile 
codification of laws but a dynamic expression of their life together 
in response to God's calling them to a common mission. 

We could multiply quotations from the Nuns' Constitutions on 
communion and community. Besides the texts directly related to them 
it is significant how often the theme of communion emerges in 
connection with elements of our life in a way that earlier editions 
of our Constitutions did not make so explicit. 

Thus we read: 

... work serves the common good by building up charity 

through cooperation; (#105.11) 

... study encourages unanimity of mind; (#100.11) 

... our celebration of the sacred liturgy re-lives the 

communion of the primitive Church in Jerusalem, drawn together by 

the teaching of the Apostles and united in daily prayer. (#1.IV) 

We are told: 

... to judge our failures in fidelity to the gospel in 
terms of injury to the common good; (#71) 

... that we should partake of our bodily food as a sign 
of sisterly communion. (#54.1) 

In the Order community permeates the practice of the 
evangelical counsels: 

Obedience ... The Dominican Vision finds in 
obedience a principle of unity. It sees obedience as keeping a 
community faithful to its spirit and mission, when under the 
leadership of superiors it works for the broader community - the 
common good of the Church and the Order. (#17.1; 18.1) 

Chastity ... In the Dominican Vision, fidelity to 
her profession of perfect chastity not only makes the nun share 
intimately the all-embracing divine friendship but also opens to her 
the beauty of serene human friendship in the common life of her 
religious family. (#26.11) 



Poverty ... It is our living in community that 
enables the practice of dedicated poverty. The Dominican Vision 
sees it as drawing us closer together in mutual trust and dependence 
on one another for the necessities of life. (#3.1,11; 29.1) 

The orientation to communion and community has always been a 
basic principle in the Order. In the past few decades, however, 
it has been given increasing attention - urging us to a heightened 
awareness of how much more community means for a Dominican than 
living in the same house and following a common schedule. 

It is possible that in the past the ideal monastic community 
was understood to be the one in which there was a canonized rigor 
about doing everything in common; and there resulted some consequent 
limited sensitivity to the individual. While the balancing of the 
rights of the individual with her responsibilities to the community 
will always be a delicate thing, we can be especially grateful for 
the guidance our present legislation provides in the effort to 
achieve this balance. 

Authentic Dominican community living reflects and continues 
that joyous freedom within oneself and the gift of self to others 
which marked the life and fraternal relationships of Saint Dominic. 

It is a healthy and attractive vision of life that we can offer 
the women of today and tomorrow. All around them in the lay state 
numerous opportunities are available to them for growing in 
knowledge and love of the Lord and dedication of themselves to the 
spread of his kingdom. It is a confirmation of our own valuing of 
community life to note how often they instinctively reach out to 
share their life with like-minded persons within the support of a 
stable community. The many lay communities that have been springing 
up are a phenomenon that forces us to examine their life against 
ours, and urges us to reclaim what is best in Dominican Community. 

We do have reason to trust that Canonical Religious Life will 
continue in the Church of the 21st century. Part of the heritage we 
will safeguard for it is our faith in the perennial value of our 
Dominican Vision and the witness it gives to God's Kingdom among us. 

I add what is probably a very familiar quotation from the 
Oakland Chapter Document on Common Life. It speaks of the ... 

... many positive elements in our [Dominican] communities 
today which are signs of hope to our world: 

- the witness of prayer in a secularized world where many 
are searching for an experience of God; 

- the witness of mutual support and understanding in a 
world where fragmentation is increasing; 

- the witness of exceptional generosity in a world where 
selfishness is growing; 

- the witness of unity and love in a world where division 
and hate abound; 

- the witness to stable commitment in a world of 
insecurity and uncertainty. (6) 



In giving this Dominican witness to the world 
authentic community is pivotal. 

A Dominican does not respond to the demands of community in the 
frame of mind that says community life is her "great cross." ... 
Certainly, community life hones us down to size and elicits every 
sort of virtue, while revealing us to ourselves with sometimes 
painful clarity. But this does not constitute its essential value 
and beauty. Rather, we who live in Dominican community are called 
to mirror the inner life of the Trinity, and by our living in unity 
within the limits of our monasteries to transcend those limits and 
be instruments of God's healing of a fragmented world. 

I balance the sharing of my thoughts on the place of community 
in our Dominican Vision by adding a few words on solitude. In fact, 
one of the challenges that we as Dominican Nuns must constantly face 
is the successful integration of community and solitude. 

Heading the list of elements in the formation of our novices, 
our Constitutions ask that they be instructed in "common life united 
with silence and solitude." (#118.11) In our Dominican Vision of 
monastic life, solitude is not a value pursued in isolation from or 
taking priority over community; it accompanies community. Our 
present legislation's provision for a solitude we had not been 
previously allowed is an aspect of our Dominican respect for each 
person's individual uniqueness. 

The women whom Saint Dominic gathered in our first monasteries 
at Prouille and Rome were plainly to have a spirit that could expand 
and be 'at home' in community; but just as surely they were to be 
free for God, 'at home' alone with him in the solitude of the depths 
of their spirit, welcoming the monastic summons to fruitful solitude 
as fundamental to their apostolic mission of contemplative prayer. 

If in the past an emphasis was placed on community at the 
expense of solitude, the Dominican Vision for the 21st century 
summons us to continue to reclaim personally and as a community the 
opportunities that solitude - sought with wisdom - affords us for 
growth in the contemplative spirit, and for best fulfilling our 
responsibility that God's word may accomplish those things for which 
it was sent . (LCM 1 . II ) 



The Dominican Vision is not vague or Utopian. From the 
beginning it has been clearly delineated and it has solid 
theological underpinnings. To be guided by it is to breathe the 
fresh air of truth, and to devote ones energies for a lifetime to 
formation in truth and to sharing with others the truth one has seen 
and 1 ived . 

The Vision is spelled out in laws -- yes. There is an 
orderliness about the Dominican Vision that has an enlightened 
respect for law, but simply as the maidservant of the life for which 
the law exists. In an age teetering with permissiveness we continue 



10 



to reclaim for ourselves and those who will follow us Saint 
Dominic's attractive characteristic of balancing firmness in holdin; 
to the laws that guide our life, with wisdom in their application. 

The Dominican Nun is called to be a woman of vision. She is 
invited to a maturity which takes all the riches our way of life 
provides and harmonizes them within the wholeness of one who has 
become "total gift" - to God and for her brothers and sisters. 

Faced with the awesomeness of the Vision and the Call, I can 
only echo Saint Paul's words: 

"It is not that I have already taken hold 
of it or have already attained perfect maturity, 
but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may 
possess it ... straining forward to what lies ahead, 
... the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ 
Jesus." (Phil. 3:12-14) 

To such were the life and energies of Saint Dominic directed. 
To such must ours also be drawn. 



NOTES 

1. General Chapter of Oakland, 1989, Commission IV, 

Document on the Priorities of the Order 1.3. 

2. Br. Anicetus Fernandez, O.P., Master General, Letter 

of Presentation , Book of Constitutions of the Nuns of 
the Order of Preachers, USA 1987, p. 5. 

3. General Chapter of Mexico, 1992, Commission Document on 

the Dominican Family , Exhortation 11. g. 

4. Report of the Second Meeting of the Commission of Nuns, 

Rome, 1992, Part I. Responses of the Monasteries to 
the Orbev Letter , final paragraph. Eng. trans, p. 7. 

5. General Chapter of Oakland, 1989, Commission I, 

Document on Community Life 3.1. 

6. ibid. 2. 1 . 



11 

THE REALITY OF THE LIVED EXPERIENCE: 
AREAS TO BE EXPLORED 



Sister Mary of Mercy, O.P. 
Farmington Hills 
( Transcription ) 



I was quite a small child, visiting in the home of my 
aunt, the night that the Brownell School burned. It was a 
fascinating but a frightening sight. We were awakened by my 
older cousin to come down and we could see, through the 
buildings, the school burning. The response was varied. I 
think that the grown-ups were a little bit relieved that it 
burned at night, the wooden staircases and floors. In the 
morning there was among, of course, the children, a great deal 
of glee. The school was burned down! They were delighted. 
But one little philosopher was a little more silent, to their 
annoyance, and they said, "Well, what's the matter with you, 
Freddie?" And he said, "It won't do any good. The teachers 
weren't in it!" And he was right. Some people see more 
deeply than others and are able to voice what they see. 

Twenty-five years ago or so, we were blessed by the 
voices of Father Walgrave and Father Vicaire, as the Order 
approached the renewal of its Constitutions. They were able 
to look into the charism, the grace of Saint Dominic, and look 
into the history of the Order and perceive both the 
essentials, the continuity, and the renewal. We benefited 
from what they saw and what they said to us. 

And there are some of us here who had the great grace of 
the experience of re-writing our Constitutions, refounding our 
own communities, and it was a thrilling experience because it 
was something that we no longer did because "this is what we 
did" but because we had looked into and studied and placed all 
of the elements there by God's grace. 

Now a number of years have elapsed since that time and in 
the Church there are new voices rising not only in our own 
Order but outside of it to reassess the situation of religious 
life today, and we can listen to those voices. Many would be 
familiar with the recent book of Sister Mary Jo Leddy on re- 
weaving of the religious life. I'm not advocating "creative 
disintegration" but perhaps we can be aware of what has been 
said of religious life buying in too much to the secular 
culture, being the "instant gratification" people. We can 
hear the word "radical" but I hope we will interpret it as a 
more radical living of the Gospel and of our own life. 

The voice of Sister Elizabeth McDonough has been present 
to us, not verbally but on the printed page, but I think it is 
a very perceptive voice. And she has honestly looked at the 



12 



situation of religious life today and seen, perhaps, the 
danger of entering into the liberal individualism and the 
psychological selfism. And we should be aware of that voice, 
that in the age that has now become post-liberal and post- 
modern, we may not buy into the liberal and modern systems. I 
don't mean that pessimistically. I think Sister has spoken 
very well of the need for structures in religious life, and we 
have been blessed in our own Constitutions because those 
structures have been preserved — and I am speaking of the 
Observances which we have to preserve and use well. 



told 

childr 

very 

go ma 

realiz 

she c 

the m 

did n 

seemed 

finger 

moved 

and h 

were 

useles 

Elizab 



his 

us 

en 

mark 

ny 

e t 

ould 

id-d 

ot 

pe 
s, 

abo 
is 

soft 
s b 
eth 1 



was 
that 

edly 
plac 
hat 

CO 

ay 

see , 
rf ec 
and 
ut. 
legs 
an 
ecau 
s vo 



ill 
in 
and 

phy 
es . 

we 
me 
pray 

but 
tly 

yet 
Th 
, t 
d 1 
se o 
ice 



ustr 
our 
the 
sica 
A 
nev 
to 
er 
amo 
for 
he 
e r 
he b 
imp, 
f a 
on t 



ated t 
neigh 
n the 
lly de 
Catho 
er bri 
our mo 
and sh 
ng all 
med . 

had 
eason 
one st 

so 
lack o 
he mat 



o ou 
borh 

y 9 
form 
lie 
ng t 
nast 
e br 

of 

A 

to 

was 
ruct 
the 
f st 
ter 



r co 
ood 
row 
ed a 

worn 
hem 
ery 
ough 
thes 
perf 

be 

bee 
ure 

1 im 
ruct 
of s 



mmuni t 
there 
up — 
nd , as 
an wo 
to chu 
one mo 
t the 
e ther 
ect b 
carrie 
ause i 
had ne 
bs wer 
ure . 
tructu 



y . Ou 
is an 
who ar 
she s 
rking 
rch," 
rning . 
young 
e was 
ody 

d in b 
n his 
ver so 
e ther 
So we 
re . 



r ex 
inst 
e ve 
aid , 
the 
so s 
Th 
peop 
a yo 

y th 
limb 
lidi 
e bu 
can 



tern 
ituti 
ry gr 
they 
re sa 
he as 
ey ca 
le , w 
ung 1 
arms , 
e nur 
s , hi 
fied. 
t the 
hear 



Sister 
on for 
ossly , 

don' t 
id, "I 
ked if 
me for 
horn we 
ad who 

legs , 
se and 
s arms 
They 
y were 
Sister 



and 

of 

And 

had 

Obse 

or 

Poss 

asce 

had 

some 

to 

asce 

weak 

move 

from 

hear 

hear 



We ha 

we ca 

her pa 

integr 

reall 
rvances 
so , an 
ibly w 
ticism 

appro 
thing 
kind o 
ticism 
ness , 
d ... 

the 

"end 



ve h 
n 1 
per 
atio 

y 

wh 
d t 
hy w 

in 
ache 
we w 
f co 

as 
out 
and 
word 
osur 



eard, 
earn 

was 
n is 
inten 
ich 
hat i 
e , an 
some 
d as 
ere g 
ntrol 

some 

of 
these 
"en 
e" a 



this 
what S 

"Bala 
an 
ded 

we had 
s the 
d a lo 
of the 
cetici 
oing t 

Him w 
thing 
our we 

are o 
closur 
s wel 



morn 

iste 

nee 

area 

to 

not 
elem 
t in 

pas 
sm 

o do 
ith 

whi 
akne 
ver 
e" 
1, 



ing, 

r ha 

of t 
tha 
emb 
s tu 

ents 
the 

sing 

from 
for 

-- a 

ch 

ss . 

simp 

to 

as S 



Sis 
d to 
he E 
t we 
ark 
died 

of 

Chu 

yea 
an 

God 
nd , 
we 

For 
lifi 
"wit 
aint 



ter Ma 

say . 

lement 

can t 

upon , 

in th 

asceti 

rch , w 

rs was 

atti 

, some 

of cou 

embrac 

enclo 

cation 

hdrawa 

Domin 



ry Magd 
The or 
s and I 
hink of 
looki 
e past 
cism an 
ere not 
becaus 
tude o 
thing w 
rse , we 
e beca 
sure, y 
s , but , 
1 . " Bu 
ic woul 



alen ' s 
iginal 
ntegrat 

and wh 
ng for 
twenty 
d enclo 

vocal 
e perha 
f stre 
e were 

need t 
use of 
es . We 

let us 
t we ne 
d want 



voice 

title 

ion . " 

ich I 

the 

years 

sure . 

about 

ps we 

ngth , 

going 

o see 

our 

have 

say, 

ed to 

us to 



But another voice spoke, I think, a little more urgently 
and that was that of Father Damian Byrne in the letter that he 
wrote to us before he left the office of Master of the Order. 
And I would sum up what he said to us . . . I think he used the 
word "interdependence" or "inter-relatedness," ... and I think 
that's an area that perhaps needs more urgent exploring, or I 
hope will be in some way useful. 



L3 



el em 

she 

co mm 

We 

begi 

rela 

or 

beca 

Inte 

Domi 

prov 

prov 



in 

to 

for 

Domi 

dedi 

of 

prio 

char 

that 

the 

and 

will 

carr 

the 

this 

draw 

our 

Conf 



I w 
en t 

stre 
union 
remem 
nn ing 
t edne 
becau 
use 
nt ion 
nic 
idenc 
idenc 



ould 
that 
ssed 

and 
ber 

of 
ss o 
se we 
this 
al o 
a 
e o 
e 1 ed 



like t 

Siste 

espec 

mi ss 

the 1 

our Co 

f our 

make 

is i 

n our 

nd if 

f Go 

Saint 



o loo 
r Mar 
i al ly 
i on , 
et ter 
nsti t 
life, 
offer 
nt egr 
par 
I 
d, 
Domi 



k at 
y Mag 

the 
our p 

of 
u t i on 

and 
i ngs 
al t 
t, i 
may 
i nt en 
nic . 



it th 
dalen 

conmu 



rough 
spok 
nio , 



lace 

Fath 
s sta 
he sa 
for t 
ou 
nt en t 
presu 
tiona 



in th 
er An 
ting 
id , n 
he mi 
r Ord 
ional 
me t 
1 in 



the 
e ab 
and 
e mi 
ice t 
the 
ot j 
ssio 
er . 

on 

o s 

th 



pns 
out t 
that 
ssi on 
us F e 
essen 
us t b 
n o f 

It i 

the 

ay so 

e wa 



m o f t h 
his mor 
is the 

of the 
rnandez 
t i a 1 ap 
ecause 
the Chu 
s i nt en 
par t o 
-- wit 
y that 



e other 
nin g as 
mi ssi o : 

Order . 

at the 
o s t o J i c 
we pray 
rch but 
t iona 1 . 
f Saint 
hin the 
God 's 



I 
the 
me , 

t ru 
nica 
ca ti 
trut 
r t 
ity 
he 

Lor 

the 
be 

y t 

dow 
gr 
ing 

com 
eren 



had 

Ord 

tha 
th. 
n n 
on , 
h w 
o t 

of 

pra 
d w 
n t 
come 
hat 
n-tr 
ace 

tog 
muni 
ce , 



spoken 
er bee 
t what 

You 
uns t h 

and ye 
hich t 
hat an 

Saint 
ct iced 
as the 
he bur 
of p 

cry of 
odden 

of m_i 
ether , 
ties i 
and in 



at 
ause 

Sai 
had 
at 

t it 
hen 
d p 

Dom 
at P 
n t 
n ing 
oor 

Sai 
in 
ssio 

an 
n t 
the 



anothe 

tha t w 

nt Domi 

among 
love f 
was no 
Saint 
art of 
inic a 
alenci a 
o show 
conce 
sinner 
nt Domi 
our he 
becau 
i nt erde 
he cha 
Order . 



r ti 
as t 
nic 

the 
or 
t be 

Dom 

our 
11 

and 
him 
rn 
s?" 
nic 
arts 
se 

pend 
lien 



me of 
he f o 
saw i 
worn 
God, 
aring 
inic 

grac 
throu 

of w 
a gre 
for s 
And 
for t 
. I 
in i 
ence , 
ges 



the 
undin 
n Lan 
en wh 
that 
f rui 
was 
e is 
gh hi 
hich 
ater 
inner 

we 
he si 
think 
t I 

an i 
that 



cent 
g in 
gued 
o ev 
ze 
t be 
able 
that 
s li 
Fath 
need 
sin 
know 
nner 

we 
thin 
nter 

we 



rali 
si gh 
oc w 
entu 
al, 
caus 

to 

we 
fe, 
er V 

of 

his 

tha 
s, t 
have 
k we 
act i 

f ac 



ty of 
t, it 
as t h 
ally 

that 
e of 
bring 
know 
thee 
icair 
the p 

cry, 
t we 
he po 

to 1 

can 
on , 
e, i 



truth 

seems 
e need 
became 

self- 
a lack 
. But 
of the 
har i ty 
e says 
eopl e , 

"What 
are to 
or and 
ook at 
find a 
within 
n the 



docu 

and 

Span 

me 

it 

the 

woul 

and 

the 

the 

char 

miss 

inte 



Fat 

ment 
he 

ish . 

whic 

said 
ver 

d s 
the 
pro 
Dom 

ism 

ion 

rdep 



her 

fro 

t ran 

An 

h I m 

was 

y ii 

ay t 

mis 

motor 

inica 

and 

we 
enden 



Ruan 

m t 

slat 

d i 

ay n 
it 

» 

f e-p 

hat 

sion 

of 
n F 

the 
can 
ce i 



e 

he 

ed 

n 

ot 

The 



had 

Cha 
a li 
my w 

have 
wh 



r o j e c t 
in th 
of Sa 
the fam 
ami ly , 
missi 
look 
n commu 



the 
pte r 
ttle 
obbl 

t ra 
ole 

and 
e id 
int 

iiy, 

fro 
on. " 
a 1 
ni t y 



kind 

of Me 

part 

y Span 

nsl ate 

Domini 

the 

ea whi 

Domini 

it sa 

m the 

So 
ittle 



ness 
xico 
of i 
ish , 
d ex 
can 
miss 
ch G 
c , w 

ys, 

un 

f ro 
bit 



to 

on 
t an 

a s 
actl 
Fami 
ion 
od g 
e fi 
"to 
ity 
m t 
at 



send us 
the Dom 
d sent 
entence 
y corre 
ly find 
of Sain 
ave him 
nd our 
promote 
of the 
hat ch 
our i 



a c 
inic 

us t 

jum 

ctly 

s it 

t Do 

i in 

uni t 

the 

voc 

aris 

nter 



opy 
an F 
he r 
ped 
, bu 
s ro 
mini 
the 

y- 

gro 
a t io 
m an 
act i 



of the 
amily , 
est in 
out at 
t what 
o t s in 
c." I 
grace 
And o f 
wt h of 
n , the 
d that 
on and 



And I'm to look for the areas that we need to focus on. 
One of them I will call "inculturation." What do I mean by 
that? The language that we can find within the members of our 
community to articulate our vision and our living out of the 



14 



charism that will bring us together. In an earlier version 
Sister Mary Magdalen had pointed out -- which I had seen -- 
but it's very true, that a good number of us were first formed 
in the former Constitutions, and the younger members that we 
have did not have that experience. We may be using a 
different language. 



pnn 

soci 

perc 

(48- 

inte 

more 

this 

brin 

olde 

need 

conv 

comm 

see 

exam 

and 

have 

God. 

And 

for 

eith 

outf 

peop 

didn 

not 

not 

comm 

the 

youn 

jour 

prob 

to 

the 

help 

rema 

the 

and 

age . 

cour 

reme 

thin 



Sist 
ted, 
ally 
epti v 
66), 
rest i 
to 
tog 
g th 
r 

to 
ersat 
on s 

that 
pie 

the 
exp 
We 

we 

a 
er 
low 
le 
' t 

that 
to 
unica 

youn 
g wo 

an 
ney 
lems 
artic 

root 
in 
rk t 

endu 

inst 
We 
se , 
mber 
gs we 



er L 

spea 

and 
e . 

the 
ng, 
thee 
ether 
is t 
. I 

dial 
ions 
tudy . 

the 
of mi 

comm 
erien 
wer 
knew 
umber 
he P 
of t 
one 
ven 
nai 
the 
tion 
g worn 
men 
aware 
into 

of t 
ulate 
, th 

doin 
hat 
ring 
i tuti 
may 
as s 

that 

cann 



liza 
ks 

of 
She 

ris 
she 
lder 
? T 
oget 

use 
ogue 

we 
Ma 
valu 
ssio 



unio 
ced 
e d 
we w 

of 
erpe 
he 
in 

know 
ve . 
s 

of 
en o 
to e 
ness 

God 
he w 
th 
e v 
g th 
the 

val 
onal 
do 
he 

th 
ot j 



beth 
about 

those 

speak 
ing a 
says t 
s than 
he pro 
her? 
d the 

in c 
now sh 
ybe we 
es , th 

-- ev 
n with 

it di 
rawn 
ere do 
us, it 
tual 
life, 
much 

exist 
We k 
cope , 
events 
f toda 
nter t 

that 
and 
orld . 
is to 
alues 
at. S 

senio 
ues o 
form 
this 
says , 
ere a 
et tiso 



McDo 

f ou 

in 

s of 

dult 

he y 

to 
bl em 

Fir 
word 
ommu 
are , 

nee 
e vo 
en t 

oth 
ffer 
by 
ing 

art 
Rosa 

as 
more 
ed. 
new 

pr 
, th 

y. Y 

he a 
they 

in 

But 
on 
are 
iste 
r pe 
f th 
s o 
wi 

it 
re 
n . 



noug 

r a 

th 

the 
s (3 
outh 
the 

is 
st 

"in 
nity 

in 
d a 
cati 
he c 
ers 
entl 
3esu 
some 
icul 
ry o 

a 

soc 

At 
that 
ecis 
e po 
et t 
post 

nee 

cha 

it 1 
e an 
the 
r El 
ople 
e Go 
f r 
thou 

i s 
endu 



h, 

ges, 
e re 
eld 
0-47 
s se 
inne 
ther 
of a 
cult 
. I 
our 
litt 
on i 
ommu 



in a 
fi 
ligi 
ers 
), t 
em t 
r gr 
e . 

11, 
urat 
thi 
Chap 
le b 
s th 
nio , 



— l 

y • 

s Ch 
thin 
ated 
r th 
supp 
iall 
the 

the 
ion , 
liti 
hat 
olic 
d to 
rity 
s th 
othe 
same 
izab 

hav 
spel 
el ig 
t be 

for 
ring 



t's 
We k 
rist 
g f o 

it 
e Pe 
ort 
y aw 
time 
re w 
t 
cal 
awar 
lif 
, as 

th 
e sa 
r, t 
. B 
eth 
e to 
fro 
ious 
ing 

th 

va 



n ar 
rst 
ous 
(67- 
he y 
o re 
oups 
And 
we w 
ion" 
nk t 
ter 
it o 
e sa 

the 
the 
new 
. T 
r th 
self 
rpet 
of t 
are 

tha 
ere 
he 
and 
enes 
e bu 

one 
ere 
me v 
hat 
ut w 
McDo 

lea 
m th 

exp 
cons 
e yo 
lues 



tide 
of all 
life, 
90), t 
ouths 
late i 
. But 
how ar 
ho are 

becau 
he ans 
discus 
f help 
me . I 

commu 
same g 
were c 
hat's 
e Chur 

as th 
ual Ad 
he lif 
of pro 
t I en 
proble 
world- 
social 
s has 
t the 

Siste 

reach 
ocatio 
we per 
e may 
nough 
rn how 
e soci 
ressio 
cious 
unger 
Th 



that 

abo 
and 
he m 
(9-2 
deal 

how 
e we 

a 1 
se I 
wer 
sion 

in 

wil 
nion 
race 
omin 
our 
ch. 
e re 
orat 
e . 

blem 
tere 
ms b 
wide 

awa 
not 
cont 
r sa 
ou 
n an 
cei v 
need 
also 

to 

■ li 
n of 

of i 
gene 
ere 



she 
ut pe 
it 's 
id-li 
9). 
istic 

to b 

goin 
ittle 

thin 
is in 
s , in 
t r y i n 
1 use 

with 

but 
g to 
vocat 

Prob 
spons 
ion a 
And t 
s tha 
d we 
ut su 
ins 
renes 
led t 
empla 
id to 
t to 
d we 
e tha 

a li 

made 
disen 
cultu 

a f o 
t and 
ratio 

are 



just 
ople 
very 
f ers 
And, 
ally 
ring 
g to 
bit 
k we 
the 
our 
g to 
the 
God 
they 
love 
ion . 
ably 
e to 
s an 
hese 
t we 
were 
rely 
tan t 
s of 
hese 
tive 
me , 
the 
need 
t at 
ttle 
the 
gage 
ral , 
rmer 
, of 
n to 
some 



The second area within community of course, Sisters, is 
government. Father Malachy is going to address that, and it 
would be a great help to us. 



L5 



prob 

we 

the 

f rui 

the 

prec 

beau 

knob 

brok 

our 

them 

of 

our 

Chur 

life 

miss 

the 

the 

wait 

Sist 



We 
lem 
see 

ble 
tful 

ima 

ious 

tifu 

th 

en 

age 
» a 
the 

eld 
ch 

, s 
io. 

wor 

rev 
ing 
ers . 



are 

is 

the 
ssin 
fo 
ge 
? 

1 f 
at 's 
up 

d S 
nd 

cha 
ers 
need 
till 
Th 
Id. 
eren 

for 



al 
tha 



m a 

9 i 
r t 
of 

It's 
ull- 
le 
by G 
iste 
we w 
lien 

nee 

s t 

ca 

ey a 

Thi 
ce 

God 



1 awa 
t we 
s ble 
s the 
he Or 
the r 

not t 
blown 
ft at 
od ' s w 
rs an 
ill ne 
ge. 
d to 
hem, 
lied 
re liv 
s is , 
and th 

and t 



re 

shou 
ssin 
re, 
der . 
ose . 
he d 

bio 
th 
inte 
d li 
ed t 
But 

be 
and 
to 
ing 
for 
e ho 
he f 



of the 
Id not s 
g or , to 
and the 
Mysti 
When 
elicate 
om . It 
e end of 
r , bring 
sten to 
o discus 
we need 
aware t 
that th 
be earn 
their st 
them and 
ly provi 
rui tf uln 



care 
ee t h 
o muc 
se ar 
cal 1 

is 
roseb 
•s th 

the 
s f ru 
them 
s thi 
to re 
hat w 
ey ar 
est a 
age o 

for 
ding 
ess f 



of t 
e age 
h may 
e the 
i tera 
the 
ud or 
at ha 
seaso 
it. 
as we 
s . We 
membe 
e nee 
e liv 
nd al 
f lif 
us , o 
and t 
or th 



he a 
d as 
be , 

Sis 
ture 
rose 

eve 
rd, 
n wh 
So w 

try 

are 
r th 
d th 
ing 
ive 
e f o 
ur p 
he p 
e Ch 



ged . I 

a prob 

as burd 

ters wh 

has of 

at i 

n the f 

brown , 

ich , wh 

e mus t 

to pro 

all we 

e treas 

em and 

the roo 

in comm 

r the p 

ro-lif e 

at ience 

urch , f 



thi 
lem . 
en? 
o ar 
ten 
ts 

ragr 
dri e 
en i 
trea 
vide 
11 a 
ure , 
that 
t of 
unio 
eopl 
sta 
and 
or t 



nk a 

Do 

But 

e so 

used 

mos t 

ant , 

d up 

t is 

sure 

for 

ware 

and 

the 

our 

and 

e in 

nee , 

the 

hose 



can 

gues 

so 

thin 

move 

"Let 

it 

Cons 

mona 

done 

a m 

alio 

life 



What 

we s 
tion 
far . 
k one 
d gra 
1 s ha 

grow . 
ti tuti 
stery 

Su 
onaste 
wed t 

to th 



about 
ee th 
of a 

I wo 
of t 
dually 
ve a C 
" C 
ons? 

for 
rely a 
ry be 
o mak 
e Lord 



ou 
at 

com 
uld 
he g 
. W 
onf e 
an 

Su 
her 

cer 
fore 
e h 



r l 

in 

mon 

lik 
reat 
e di 
renc 

we 
rely 

nov 
tain 

, i 

er 



nterde 
missio 
noviti 
e to 

succe 

dn't f 

e and 

look 

a S 

itiate 

level 
n jus 
format 



penden 
? F 
ate . 

art ic 
sses o 
orm a 
let 's 
at 
ister 
or pa 
of vi 
tice , 
ion t 



ce 

athe 
We h 
ulat 
f ou 
f ede 
see 
wha 
may 
rt o 
tali 

a 
here 



as a 
r B 
aven 
e th 
r Co 
rati 
how 
t i 
be 
f it 
ty s 
youn 
and 



Con 
yrne 
•t t 
is, 
nf er 
on b 
it g 
s a 
se 
, an 
houl 
g w 

ded 



f eren 
men 
hough 
Siste 
ence 
ecaus 
oes . 
lread 
nt t 
d thi 
d be 
oman 
icate 



ce an 
tions 
t tha 
rs , t 
is th 
e we 

Let * 
y in 
o an 
s has 
prese 
shou 
her 



d how 

the 

t way 

hat I 

at we 

said , 

s let 

our 

other 

been 

n t in 

Id be 

whole 



aire 

novi 

the 

have 

Prog 

that 

our 

thei 

grou 

Coul 

some 

unde 

mist 

of 

one 



But 

a d y h 

ces m 

Order 

expe 

ram I 

the 

Fathe 

r own 

has 

we 

time 

the 

resses 

readin 

ano the 



I t 

ave 

ay 

wi 

rien 

th 

Sis 

rs, 

sta 

be 

thi 

of 

gu 

wh 



a 
in 



hink 

in 
spen 
th t 
ced 
ink 
ters 

but 
ge o 
en 

nk t 
co 
idan 
o a 
nd 

thi 



we 
our 
d a 
he c 
the 
have 
re 
al 
f fo 
very 
hat 
mi ng 
ce 

re f 
prep 
s wa 



can 
Consti 

dete 
onsent 

real 

found 

cei ve 

so th 

rmat io 

help 
way, p 

toge 
of on 
acing 
aratio 
y? Th 



look 
tuti 
rmin 

of 
ity 
tha 
the 
e ex 
n an 
ful 
erha 
ther 
e o 
the 
n to 
is i 



at 
ons , 

ed t 
each 

of 
t ve 

sol 
peri 
d ve 

and 
ps, 

in 
f o 
fact 

be 
s ju 



Cons 

whi 
ime 

of 

the 
ry v 
id i 
ence 
ry o 

for 
in t 

a 
ur 

tha 
done 
s t a 



titu 
ch s 
in a 
the 

Th 
alua 
nput 

of 
f ten 
ma t i 
he n 
mona 
Fath 
t th 
and 
sug 



tion 

ays 

noth 

prio 

eolo 

ble. 

tha 
bein 

nea 
ve f 
ovi t 
st er 
ers 
ere 

mi g 
ges t 



#14 
that 
er m 
ress 
gica 
Fi 
t th 
g wi 
r th 
or t 
i ate 
y f o 

o r 
is a 
ht w 
ion . 



1, w 
a g 

onas 

es . 

1 Fo 

rst 

ey d 

th w 

ei r 

he S 
con 

r f o 
one 
gre 

i sh 



hich we 
roup of 
tery of 

We who 
rma tion 
of all , 
id from 
omen a t 
own age 
isters . 
text of 
rma t io n 

of the 
at deal 
to help 



16 



In formation for Government -- this has already been 
proposed -- of guidance perhaps for the prioresses, and we 
would be glad to have it and we could use it, to come 
together. Even as far back as Saint Basil, in his Long Rules 
(Rule #54) he mentions that the superiors should come together 
and talk this all out. And I think that would be a great 
service that the Conference could provide for the prioresses 
as well as for others, either in leadership or even for the 
work of the Chapter. 

The help given to one or other of monasteries: in Father 
Byrne's paper he mentions the suggestion of one of the nuns of 
the possibility of perhaps two smaller monasteries founding an 
entirely new entity. As the Conference, we do not reach into 
the area of government or decision-making of any of the 
monasteries and that is not the intention, but do we wish to 
give to the Conference any ways to help a monastery who so 
requests it? 



wi th 

to 

Orde 

Domi 

pure 

that 

bran 

of 

look 

Cons 

cone 



Now 
in 
be 

r t 
nica 

ly 

th 
ches 
the 
ing 
ti tu 
ept 



I 
the 
from 
hat 
n c 
cont 
e g 

of 
ver 

at 
tion 
of m 



wou 

Ord 

our 

we 

onte 

empl 

ivin 

th 

y li 

t 

s a 

issi 



Id lik 
er, fl 

own i 

can 
mplati 
ative 
g of 
e Orde 
ving o 
he as 
nd I 
o . 



e to 
owin 
dent 
best 
ve 

lif 
life 
r mu 
f ou 
pect 

cou 



spea 
g fro 
i ty a 

ser 
ident 
e to 
, the 
st co 
r own 

of 
Id d 



k a 1 

m our 

nd f r 

ve it 

ity, 

whi 

shar 

me ou 

life 

comm 

o 



ittl 
ver 
om o 
. W 
that 
ch 
ing 
t es 
. S 
unio 



it sim 



e bi 
y id 
ur d 
e ha 

it 
we h 
of 1 
sent 
iste 

j 1 
ilar 



t abou 
entity 
iversi 
ve to 
remain 
ave be 
if e , w 
ially 
r Mary 
eaf ed 
ly in 



t inte 
. And 
ty wit 
know w 
s that 
en cal 
ith th 
and pr 
Magda 
throu 
examin 



Taction 
it has 
hin the 
ell our 
of the 
led and 
e other 
imarily 
len , in 
gh our 
ing the 



We have in Constitution #1, "these women Saint Dominic 
associated with the holy preaching by prayer and penance." 
Later on ... "spending themselves totally for souls, with one 
charity, one mercy, the friars, the Sisters and the laity 
preach the Lord Jesus Christ throughout the world. The nuns 
seek, ponder, and call upon him in solitude so that the Word 
may accomplish what it has been sent to do." 



In the Common Life (#2 and 3) we read: "the unity in the 
monastery transcends the limits and attains its fulness in 
communion with the Order and with the whole Church, living in 
harmony, having one mind and one heart in God." Again ... 
"the unanimity there would furnish an example of that 
reconciliation of all things in Christ which our brethren 
proclaim in their preaching." If we cannot live 
reconciliation within our own midst, then we cannot further 
the reconciliation of the Order. We "must first build in our 
own monasteries the Church of God which we help to spread by 
the offering of ourselves." 



17 



it 

gene 

obed 

work 

ent a 

Chur 

offe 

And 

the 

corp 

1 i vi 

adde 

nuns 

city 

prea 

perp 

bear 

inmo 

cont 



esse 

and 

Fath 

beli 

gosp 

comm 

real 

are , 

poor 

prio 

of 

prio 

cons 

walk 

thro 



Thi 
i s 

rati 
ienc 
of 
ils 
ch." 
ring 

we 

min 
orat 
ng 
d, 
» w 

chin 
et ua 
ing 
st 
empl 



s a 
an 

ons . 
e, 
re 

R 
we 
are 
istr 
e w 
f rug 
but 
hile 
Jeru 

g" 

te 
sin 
san 

at iv 



spec 
aspe 
T 
#19) 
demp 

an 
egar 

ma 
ass 
y o 
i tne 
ally 
let 

li 
sale 
and , 
the 
ners 
ctua 
e , c 



t, 
ct 

he 

tion 
d t 
ding 
y co 
ured 
f ou 
ss 

» s 
us n 
ving 
m, 
lov 
sin 
, t 
ry 
ompa 



too , 
that 
Cons 
By 

ake 

ch 
oper 

tha 
r br 
bef o 
hari 
ot o 
in 

whi 
lies 
gula 
he 

of 
ssio 



1 s 

sp 

titu 

this 

. th 

on 
ast i 
ate 
t by 
ethr 
re 
ng 
verl 

har 
ch 

t of 
r g 
down 
hi 
na te 



pres 
eaks 
tion 
vo 
e la 
the 

ty 

in t 
our 

en" 

the 

gene 

ook 

mony 

the 
all 

ift 

trod 

s c 
mis 



ent a 
to 
del 
w the 
bors 

char 
(#24) 
he wo 

pove 
and w 

worl 
rousl 
this 

bret 
, "In 
which 
den 
ompas 
sio i 



s we 
the 

inea 
nun 

and 

act e 
we 

rk o 

rty 

e ar 

d b 

y • 

love 

are 

hren 
the 
the 

and 

sion 

s Go 



live 
hear 
t es i 
s ... 
renunc 
r of s 
find 
f huma 
(#28) 
e chal 
y wor 

Other 

ly phr 

a sign 

buil 

clois 

bless 

the 
." T 
d * s gi 



out ou 
t of t 
t thi 
cooper 
iat ion 
acrif i 
: "by 
n rege 
"we co 
1 enged 
king d 
text 
ase in 
of th 
d up 
ter t h 
ed Fat 
aff lie 
hat c 
ft to 



r vo 
he y 
s wa 
ate 
s wh 
ce f 

our 
nera 
oper 

to 
ilig 
s mi 

#35 
at b 

by 
e nu 
her 
ted 
hari 
us . 



ws and 
ounger 
y (cf. 
in the 
ich it 
or the 

self- 
tion." 
ate in 
give a 
en 1 1 y , 
gh t be 
: "the 
lessed 

their 
ns ... 
had of 
in the 
sm of 



So i 
nee o 
prima 
er By 
eve i 
el , i 
unicat 
it y w 

perh 

in 
rities 
our n 
rities 
iderat 

with 
ugh ou 



t i 

f o 

rily 

me 

n 3 

dent 

ions 

ithi 

aps, 

our 

an 
uns 

w 
ions 

Je 
r ga 



s f 
ur 

re 

has 

esus 

if ic 

an 
n t 

st 
own 
d o 
exp 
oven 
, o 
sus , 
rden 



rom t 
li f e p 
late 

ment 
, inc 
at ion 
d abo 
he co 
ruggli 

mids 
f the 
ressed 

into 
ur pr 

thro 
s and 



hat 
rimar 
to t 
ioned 
ul tur 

with 
ve a 
ntext 
ng t 
t bu 

Orde 

it, 

the 

ayer , 

ugh 

our w 



cont 

iiy, 

he 

: e 

atio 

th 

11. 

of 



be 

w 

li 

"I 

fa 

ou 

our 

foods 



empla 
whic 
prior 
vange 
n , s 
e po 
as I 

our 
lieve 
e mu 
ving 

wou 

brie 

r da 

cloi 

, int 



tive 
h we r 
i t ies 
lizing 
tudyin 
or , in 
mentio 

own 1 
. We 
st be 
on the 
Id lik 

of o 
ily re 
sters , 
o our 



core , 
elate 
of th 

thos 
g and 
volvem 
ned , b 
ives . 
have a 

mind 

front 

e to s 

ur li 

f lecti 

thro 
chapel 



from t 
to the 
e Orde 
e who 
preach 
ent in 
y livi 
Somet 
nd we 
ful o 
iers . 
ee the 
ves a 
on dur 
ugh ou 
s." 



he very 

Church 
r which 

do not 
ing the 

social 
ng that 
imes we 
are the 
f these 

As one 
se four 
nd our 
ing our 
r work , 



which 

cours 

there 

Provi 

becom 

he s 

work 

nouri 

li vel 

devel 

commi 

with 

were 

truly 



From o 

we w 

e , of 

It 
ncial 
e invo 
aid tha 

of Ec 
shing 
y audi 
oped 
1 1 e d t 

Christ 

very 

spirit 



ur es 
ould 
the 

was 
of Ge 
lved 
t thes 
khar t , 
in th 
ence 
mystic 
o a 

accor 
eager 
ual 1 i 



sent ial 
interac 

German 
in 1286 
rmany , 
in the 
e had t 
Suso , 
em . " 
that 
al 

life 
ding 

listen 
f e was 



w 
e x 

o 
to 



re 

t w 

my 

or 

req 

mon 
o be 
an 
In 
as 

peri 
f v 

the 
e rs , 
int e 



ali t y : 
ith th 
sties 
1287 th 
ues ted 
ast erie 

"fratr 
d Taule 
the nu 
inspi ri 
ence , 
olunt ar 

spirit 
eager 
nse . " 



ar 
e 
and 
at H 
tha 
s of 
es d 
r . 
ns , 
ng 
open 

y po 

of 

l n 



e t 
rder 

the 
erma 
t t 

nun 
octi 
And 

the 
to t 
-min 
vert 
the 
that 



here 

? W 

i n 

n Mi 

he F 

s of 
it 

ther 
f r 
he p 
ded 
y an 
Gosp 
the 



ot 
e ar 
terr 
nden 
riar 

the 
And 
e wa 
iars 
reac 

and 
d to 
el . 
ir d 



her way 
e aware 
elation 

, the P 
s Preac 

Order , 
we know 
s an in 

met a 
her , wi 
serio 

fellow 

These 
esi re f 



s in 
, of 
ship 

rior 
hers 
and 
the 
ter- 
v e r > 
th a 
ush 
ship 
nuns 
or a 



There is an article by Sister Raphaela Gasser in a recent 

"Dominican Ashram," in which she mentions that the interaction 

there was really through the needs of the nuns of Zurich which 
called forth a lot of the writings of Tauler and Eckhart, and 

questions whether Henry Suso would have begun the writings in 

which he engaged if it was not for Elsbeth for whom often he 
wrote . 

In other ways, of course, we have been interrelated. The 

Fathers have helped us so much with formation, and as 

Eckhart's and Suso's and Tauler's lives were touched so much 

by the nuns, I'm sure Father Gabriel has found his touched -- 

and often impinged upon — by us. 



and 

arti 

one . 

hosp 

few 

very 

from 

they 

Sist 

but 

Sist 

ther 

enla 

beau 

Rapi 



We h 
ways 
culate 
Wi 
italiz 
month 
kind 
the 
woul 
ers . 

I re 
ers h 
e two 
rging 
tiful 
ds inf 



ave 
we 

th 
ed 

s w 
of 

Gra 
d h 

It 
memb 
ave 
mo 

our 

exp 
irma 



been 

migh 
We h 
the r 
and w 
hich 
f er , 
nd Ra 
elp 

was 
ered 

been 
nths 

inf 
erien 
ry an 



exa 
t in 
ad a 
ather 
as go 

we 

a y 
pids 
us i 
somet 

her 
ver 
now a 
irmar 
ce o 
d the 



minin 

terac 

ver 

full 
ing t 
simpl 
ear 
Siste 
n th 
hing 

offe 
y gra 
nd wi 

y- 

f se 
ir re 



g the 

t, a 

y unu 

inf i 

hav 
y cou 
bef or 
rs , t 
is w 

1 nev 
r wh 
cious 
11 be 
But 
eing 
spons 



int 
nd 

sual 
rmar 
e ra 
Id n 
e , o 
hat 
ay 

er t 
en t 
wit 
the 
it 
the 
e to 



erac 
you 

one 
y, o 
ther 
ot h 
f Si 
if e 
in 

houg 
he o 
h ou 
re a 
has 
dear 

us . 



tion w 
will 
, one 
ne of 

drama 
andle . 
ster C 
ver th 
caring 
ht I w 
ccasio 
r Sist 
nother 
prove 
Siste 



ithi 
hav 

quit 

our 

tic 
I 

arme 

ere 
for 

ould 

n ca 

er w 
bee 

d t 

rs i 



n the 
e oth 
e pra 
Siste 
needs 
had h 
lita 
was a 
one 
have 
me , a 
ho ha 
ause 
o be 
n the 



Order 
ers to 
ctical 
rs was 

for a 
ad the 
Murphy 

need , 
of our 

to do 
nd the 
s been 
we are 
a very 

Grand 



With our Dominican Friars in Grand Rapids, there is a 
growing friendship as well. The small community has been 
coming once or twice a year to spend their day of recollection 
and reflection at the Monastery. Now they have proposed a new 
initiative — a day of joint study, friars and nuns studying 
and sharing together. At the end of October we will celebrate 
such a day reflecting on St. Matthew's Gospel. It is a new 
way of interaction and enrichment. We had never thought of 
that before. 



But primarily our charism in missio is in the essential 
of the life -- because this is of the essence of our 
to be the purely contemplative life -- and certainly 
are ways of overflowing into the interaction within the 
Mission for us nuns ... we all have it in the 

who write to our monasteries and in 
musicians and artisans and, much more 
who come to find the peace of our 
our liturgies and who appreciate this 



living 

life, 

there 

Order . 

correspondence of those 

the work of our monastic 

simply, in the people 

chapels or to share in 

so much . 



19 



thin 

it 

"hea 

Domi 

and 

word 

"pro 

esse 

ou r 

Cons 

to 

miss 

will 

tell 

ther 

cont 

esse 

Obse 

and 

art i 

miss 

that 

be 

life 

Conf 



I 
k i 
in 

ri ng 
nica 

say 

an 

clai 

nt ia 

Con 
titu 
"mis 
ion , 
be 
us 
e . 

empl 
nee 
rvan 

wor 
cula 
ion 

Sa 
trul 
» a 
eren 



want e 
t can 
our 

the 
ns w 
, in 
d ke 
mi ng 
1 id 
st itu 
t ions 
sion . 

cer 

abo 
That 
ative 

of 
ces , 
ship 
te w 

beca 
int D 
y ou 
nd i 
ce , a 



d t 
ins 

Cons 
wo 

ould 

our 

epi n 
the 

ent i 

t ion 

pa 
ii 

tain 
and 

ut 
is 
li 

the 
by 

God, 

hat 

use 

omin 

r i 

t c 

nd w 



s 
pire 
titu 
rd 

ha 
Cons 

g t 

wo 

ty. 

s , S 
rail 

1 t 

iy 

Si 
that 

not 
fe, 

con 
the 

tha 

is 
it i 
ic g 
dent 
an 
ithi 



ay 

us , 
t ion 
of 
ve 

titu 
he w 
rd, " 
An 
iste 
els 
hink 
not 
ster 

our 
Sai 
temp 
very 
t we 
our 
s pa 
ave 
ity 
guid 
n th 



mo 

I 

In 

an 

bo 



one 

and 
s . 
God 
the 
t ions , 
ord." 

preac 
d I thi 
rs , in 

that 
this 

only 

Mary M 
but t 

work , 
nt Tho 
lat i ve 

same e 

serve 
Domin 
rt of o 
us , par 

as nu 
e our i 
e whole 



re wo 
would 
the 
d kee 
ldness 
"heari 
And I 
hing t 
nk we 
the fi 
of the 
is how 
in our 
agdale 
hat is 
our mi 
mas s 

life 
lement 
the Ch 
ican 
ur cha 
t of o 
ns of 
nterac 

Order 



rd a 
like 
Gosp 
ping 

to 
ng t 
thin 
he w 
shou 
nal 

Fat 

we 

man 
n (F 

an 
ssio 
ays 

tha 
s wi 
urch 
cont 
rism 
ur i 

the 
t ion 



bout 

to s 
el we 
it. 
stick 
he wo 
k we 
ord , 
Id ar 
chapt 
hers ■ 
shoul 
ual w 
armin 
Obser 
. In 
that 
t it 
th wh 
. I 
empla 
, par 
denti 
pure 
in c 



missi 
ee us 

have 
N 

a wo 
rd , s 
need 
but f 
ticul 
er wh 
, sho 
d art 
ork , 
g ton 
vance 

spea 
it 
is 
ich w 
think 
tive 
t of 
ty. 

Iy co 
ommun 



£ be 
art 
the 
o w 

rd i 
t udy 
to s 
rom 
ate 
ich , 
uld 
icul 
nobl 
Hill 
. P 
king 

is 
by t 
e se 

we 
iden 
the 
But 
ntem 
ity, 



cause I 
icul at e 

words , 
who but 
n there 
ing the 
ay also 
our own 
that in 

as our 
pertain 
ate our 
e as it 
s ) will 
1 ace i t 

of the 

of the 
he same 
rve God 
need to 
t i ty in 
charism 
i t must 
plat ive 

in the 



year 
conv 
pres 
of 

hist 
v 
pers 
pers 
and 
pres 
was 
He 
but 
psyc 
pati 
anal 
may 



I 'd 
s a 
enti 
enta 
the 
oric 
ery 
on 
on 

re 
enta 

a 
said 

he 
hoan 
ent 
yzed 
have 



li 
go - 
on 
tion 

f re 
al 

ren 
from 
very 
acti 
tion 
Cath 
it 

sai 
alys 

and 
yo 

ana 



ke 

- an 
of 

e a 

char 

owne 

the 

Fr 
ve . 

fo 
olic 

wa 
d, 
is, 

no 
urse 
ly ze 



to mak 
d I do 
psychi 
He wa 
ssocia 
acter 
d , ve 

free 
eudian 
The 
r a f e 

stood 
s bril 
"There 

that 
t of 
If." 
d my se 



e two r 

n ' t rem 

atrists 

s speak 

tion o 

- liter 

ry est 

associa 

, sexua 

re was 

w momen 

up and 

liantly 

is a 

the fr 

the do 

So as 

If. 



emar 
embe 
an 
ing 
f id 
ary 
eeme 
tion 
lly 

si 

ts a 

tha 

car 

pr 

ee a 

ctor 

I ha 



ks in 
r the 
d on 
about 
eas , 
or po 
d. A 
of i 
obses 
lence 
nd th 
nked 
ried 
incip 
ssoci 
. " S 
ve po 



con 
spe 
e of 
the 
and 
liti 
nd h 
deas 
sed , 
wh 
en o 
him 
out 
1 e w 
atio 
o , h 
inte 



clus 

cif i 

the 

psy 

he t 

cal , 

e ps 

, an 

ver 

en 

ne o 
for 
and 
e ha 
n mu 
e sa 
d ou 



ion . 
cs - 

men 
choa 
ook 

I d 
ycho 
d br 
y bi 
he 

f th 
his 
most 
ve t 
st b 

ys, 

t th 



A 
- th 

was 
naly 
a ve 
on' t 
anal 
ough 
tter 
f ini 
e do 
pres 

int 
o re 
e th 
"You 
e pr 



numb 
ere 

gi v 
tica 
ry f 

rem 
yzed 
t fo 
i vi 
shed 
ctor 
enta 
eres 
memb 
at o 

may 
oble 



er of 
was a 
ing a 
1 use 
amous 
ember 

this 
r t h a 
olen t 
his 
s who 
tion. 
ting, 
er in 
f the 

have 
ms , I 



One more challenge I think we need to place before 
ourselves and that is hope. Sister Mary Magdalen courageously 
says, "the dreams before us" and we want to see them that way 
and, I admit, they are dreams and we must trust in God's 
providence. But it's a little bit scary and so I think we 
have to approach them in hope. To the twenty-first century we 
look, that is true, but it is "today" we must live. "Today" 
is the moment of grace, the kairos. We trust that the God who 
has been with us this far will be with us until the end. 



20 



RECLAIMING THE DOMINICAN VISION FOR THE 2 1ST CENTURY ; 
A CHALLENGE FOR AGING CONTEMPLATIVE COMMUNITIES 

Bro. Ignatius Perkins, OP, DNSc, RN, 
25 September 1992 

INTRODUCTION 

Since the earliest days of the Order, our communities have provided 
care for our sick, the aging, and dying sisters and brothers. Our 
Father Dominic, as "consoler of the sick and of those who were in 
distress" (Constitutions of the Order of Preachers, #9), cared for his 
brothers with great compassion and tenderness. Following the model of 
St. Dominic, caring for one another in community provides the unique 
opportunity where the living expression of Dominican life bonds us 
together in the Lord. It is in this context that the expression of our 
love and care for one another, united in our common mission of 
preaching, can truly be a countersign to the world seeking meaning and 
salvation. As St. Dominic's life serves as a role model for us, we too 
must serve as role models, by showing others that we take reasonable 
care of ourselves and especially one another in our old age, respecting 
life as a good which we hold in honor, since God created it and will 
raise it up on the last day. 

TODAY'S CHALLENGES 

Religious communities today face unprecedented challenges but 
especially new opportunities in caring for a growing number of elderly 
members. Life expectancy has steadily increased. Infectious diseases 
have been well controlled by the use of antibiotics. Mortality from 
chronic diseases has been dramatically reduced through the use of 
sophisticated drugs and diagnostic procedures. While we have received 
the benefits of new healthcare technologies, death from cancer and heart 
disease continues to take some of our sisters and brothers at early 
ages. Longevity in some of our members is accompanied by increased 
functional dependence, the dementias and a greater need for nursing and 
health care services. 

Making decisions about health and nursing care for the sisters, 
caring for difficult persons in the community, affirming those who are 
fearful and depressed, discerning the benefits and burden of treatment, 
placement of a sister in a long term healthcare center, and enabling the 
continued development of your community's psychological, physical, and 
spiritual wellness as it fulfills its Mission, are your special 
responsibilities as leaders in your communities. 

Needed resources to assure the continued Mission of your community 
in the Church while providing an appropriate level of care -human - 
financial -and environmental - tests the strength of our community 
bonds, our ingenuity, and especially our faith in a loving Father who 
wants only good for His children. You are indeed no strangers to these 
challenges inherent in your role. But, for the moment, remember: though 
there are those in your communities who believe you can walk on water, 
can leap over tall buildings in a single bound and have the facility to 
talk to God directly, you too have needs and limits. So as you work to 
enable the continued growth of your communities in all of their human 
and spiritual dimensions, remember your own need for quiet time, for 
prayer, for leisure, for rest and for some humor tool 



21 



AGING IN COMMUNITY 

Aging in community or aging in place, as the professional 
literature describes it today, is one of your special concerns addressed 
in this Assembly. Discussions about health and aging, while a very 
important strategic aspect in your effort in "reclaiming the Dominican 
vision" can evoke reactions of fear, resentment, anxiety, and denial. 

The possibility of slowing down in our later years is considered by 
some of us as inconceivable and inappropriate for religious. It can be 
rightly stated - we have been called to serve - not until a certain age - 
but for the whole of our lives. Still, some of us welcome the time when 
the pressures of administration and serving the community in leadership 
roles can be given to others. Do we still believe that our value and 
worth in the community is measured only by productive work? Can we 
really be free and welcome the time when the pressure to be efficient 
and meet demanding schedules of the community and the ministry can be 
exchanged for more opportunities to develop the contemplative character 
of Dominican life? 

Henri Nouwen, in his book entitled Aging the Fulfillment of Life , 
(1974) describes aging as the most common human experience which 
overarches the human community. It is an experience so profoundly human 
that it breaks through the artificial boundaries between childhood and 
adulthood, and between adulthood and old age. Aging is not a reason for 
despair but a basis for hope, not a slow decaying but a gradual 
maturing, not a fate to be undergone, but a chance to be embraced. 
Aging does not need to be denied, but can be understood, affirmed and 
experienced as a process of growth and development by which the mystery 
of life and redemption is slowly revealed to us. Those of us who are 
old, or middle-aged, or young, as well as those of us who care for the 
old, need to find each other in the common experience of aging, out of 
which healing and new life can come forth. We can never be fully 
present to the elderly if we continue to hide from our own aging. As 
Nouwen notes, we need to allow the old person to awaken in ourselves. 

As Dominicans each of us shares a common bond with all humanity, 
namely, the progressive achievement of full personality in an ongoing 
process from conception to the grave. Aging, then, is a normal life- 
long event, separate and distinct from illness. Our perceptions of 
aging and the elderly are influenced by our cultural and familial 
experiences and attitudes, personal habits, our Dominican life, and the 
expectations and responsibilities as preachers in today's world. 

In our lives as Dominicans, the positive and creative awareness of 
aging and fulfillment in ourselves and those of our communities is 
familiar and noteworthy. Experiences of rejection, isolation, and being 
marginalized in the community may have particular meaning for some of 
our elderly. How attentive have we been to the developing needs of the 
aging person awakening within ourselves and in those with whom we live? 
Have you thought about your own aging and its effect on your own 
personal and spiritual maturation? Can you see beauty in the aging 
process occurring among your Sisters? Have you found that you have been 



22 



impatient with an elderly Sister when repeating instructions dozens of 
times each day? Did you allow your elderly Sister to share with you an 
important part of her history even though you have heard the same story 
hundreds of times? Why were you able to recognize the need for 
relief of arthritic pain in one Sister but failed to recognize the 
psychological pain and depression expressed by an elderly sister who is 
experiencing an increasing degree of confusion and uncertainty? 

There was little, in times past, in our formation programs which 
provided a conscious preparation for our own aging during our later 
years. This absence is not peculiar to your Dominican contemplative 
life but reflects the careless drift of the larger society to which we 
belong. As Dominican women you too have been affected by the philosophy 
and efficiency of the work ethic. Perhaps a special factor influencing 
our hesitancy about preparing for our later years has been the assurance 
that our basic needs for survival and security would be fulfilled. As a 
result, waiting for directions from superiors and passive acceptance of 
inactivity, adjoined with the normal frailties of aging can contribute 
to the development of feelings of loneliness, apathy and uselessness. 

Preparing for our later years involves careful discernment about 
our continuing commitment as Dominican religious in today's world. We 
have all been called to proclaim the gospel by word and deed to one 
another and to the community of the Church. While our ministry of 
preaching may assume difference forms, we remain committed by our solemn 
profession, a commitment which is completely and perpetually joined to 
the life and mission of Christ (Basic Constitutions). 

To reverse negative attitudes among the sisters, there i3 need to 
include study and acquire practical experience in understanding the 
process of aging and its implications for community life and ministry, 
especially when the number of our elderly sisters continues to 
increase. This is a particularly important value to be incorporated in 
our formation programs so that from the very beginning our younger 
sisters develop an understanding of the particular needs of the elderly 
and an appreciation and understanding of how vital are their continued 
contributions to the Mission of their monastery and to the Church. 

Understanding and appreciation for the commitment of our older 
sisters to the life of the community and our ministry of preaching is a 
significant aspect of a fruitful community life for sisters of all 
ages . Formation programs should make every effort to integrate 
principles and concepts on the aging process into the formative 
experience of the younger sisters. Senior sisters also need the 
opportunity to gain a better understanding and appreciation of their own 
aging process. 

Through personal and ongoing community development, sisters can 
acquire a greater understanding of the intergenerational dynamics 
operative in a community and what it means to become older, wiser and 
happy together. Facilitation in identifying the gifts of each sister 



23 



from the youngest to the oldest and especially to reverence the 
differences in one another's values, educational achievements, culture 
experiences and contribution to the Church are important aspects of a 
healthy community. 

CARING FOR ONE ANOTHER 

The challenge very close to us these days is caring for the sick 
and the elderly. You do indeed have great compassion for the sick and 
the elderly in your monasteries. I can speak from personal experiences 
where I have witnessed the care and compassion given to those who need 
to experience the healing mission of Jesus. Your monasteries are holy 
places and your care of the sick and the elderly is a truly sacred 
work. 

Some of you may agree that your centers of care are not the most 
elaborately furnished with state-of-the-art equipment. Hardware which 
can minimize the physical strain on patients and caregivers is not 
always immediately available. Some quarters are small leaving few 
options for storage of needed equipment and supplies. Designers of 
health care facilities and equipment would see our infirmaries as 
architectural wonders to be challenged. 

Most important, however, your centers of care are richly endowed 
with love and compassion. These centers of love and hope are an 
integral part of your home - the same home for many sisters for multiple 
decades. What may be lacking in conveniences is abundantly rich with 
creative alternatives to care for the sick and elderly within the 
environment of a Dominican community. And you must be commended for the 
efforts you are making in providing care at home. No wonder, then, 
there is resistance to change, to bringing in outsiders to help care for 
the sick, or to even considering the possibility of sending a sister to 
another place for care. 

Your elderly sisters, like others in society, experience loss and 
grieve over major changes in their lives. They see their own health and 
that of others in a state of decline. They cannot walk as easily nor 
can they work as long and as hard as in earlier years. They know well 
of the number of duties which now must be shared by a fewer number of 
younger sisters. Have you not heard the concerns voiced by an infirmed 
sister about her feelings of the burden she imposes on others while they 
care for her? Did you hear the frustrations of your infirmarian who 
finds it increasingly stressful to care for an uncooperative patient but 
expresses guilt when she becomes impatient with the burden of care? 

Some of you have served in the role of infirmarian, so you know 
well the burdens carried by those who minister to the sick: the long 
hours, the interrupted nights, and occasional misunderstanding and 
criticism of the infirmarian as she implements a specific nursing care 
plan for the sick and the dying. How have you managed to balance these 
concerns so the needs of the caregiver and the carereceiver and the 
common good of the community can be met? 

These are only a few of the many questions which come to mind as 



24 



together we raise some of the important issues and concerns about the 
needs of the sick and the elderly who walk among you and those who care 
for them. I submit, however, that these questions are not new for you. 
In enunciating these questions I want you to be comforted in knowing 
that these concerns affect all of our communities. It is in 
understanding our common experiences that we can bring to one another 
enormous resources and mutual support in responding to these unique 
challenges and unique opportunities for securing the Mission of our 
Order into the 2000' s. 

RECLAIMING THE VISION 

Your theme for the 1992 General Assembly is quite appropriate as 
you undertake a strategic initiative in planning for the 2000 's. Your 
coming together in this forum for some years now and through other 
collaborative initiatives, is a visible and noble example of how you 
value Dominican interdependence in enabling one another to fulfill your 
common mission as contemplative Dominican women. Call it collaboration, 
cooperation, enabling, interdependence, synergy, sharing, simply put, it 
means you both want and need one another's mutual support and confidence 
as we move into our next century of ministry. 

What practical initiatives can be identified which will respond to 
the challenges we all face in caring for one another with compassion and 
understanding. Permit me to identify several ideas which I am sure will 
be more fully elaborated during our discussion: 

1. I believe it is important for all members of the community to 
understand that planning and decisions about a program for caring 
for our elderly members is not reserved to the prioress or the 
infirmarian. The entire community needs to understand their 
responsibility in this common call to care for one another and to 
actively participate in all aspects of "reclaiming the vision." 

2. Use of nursing resources outside the community in providing care for 
the sisters in the monasteries has been tried with a certain degree 
of success. Use of these resources has reduced the burden of the 
sisters in providing care twenty-four hours each day. The concern 
voiced by sisters about "outsiders" coming into the monastery should 
be addressed by the entire community. While it is important to 
protect the spirit of the monastery, our lay employees should be 
considered as collaborators in the Mission. In their roles, they 
provide enormous service for us. The grace that you receive in 
caring for the sick, the elderly and the dying is also shared and 
experienced by the nursing staff as they follow your prescriptions 
for love, for compassion and for nursing care. 

Cost for support services for the community, however, can place a 
drain on the already limited resources of the monastery. The 
community should be kept informed about healthcare costs since this 
information can help improve stewardship of our resources. 



25 



3. Admitting sisters to the infirmaries of other religious communities 
has also been successful. Where arrangements can be made, 
especially with Dominican congregations, these need to be encouraged 
and further developed. 

Criticism from some members of our communities, especially about 
sending our sick and elderly to other places for care at one of the 
most vulnerable moments in their lives, is a cause of concern for 
communities and a source of stress for community leaders. In some 
situations, placing the dilemma before the entire community has 
helped identify the many complex issues which undergird the initial 
resistance to giving responsibility for care of our sick to others. 

As you may well imagine, objections to sending a sister to another 
center for care, at times, has little to do with this sister's need 
at the moment. The roots of the objections take many forms, for 
example, denial of the aging process; fear of being sent away if I 
should need nursing care; loss of a long loved sister; etc. 

4. Securing the professional services of a geriatric nurse practitioner 
to provide consultation on the care of the sisters at home can 
enhance the quality of your home care program and provide an 
immediate resource for the infirmarian in making assessments and 
planning nursing interventions. Physicians are helpful but they 
know little about planning nursing care for the elderly. 

5. Over these past few years there has been some informal discussion 
about the need to preserve the contemplative vocation and consider 
sending our sisters to one or a few regionally designated 
monasteries for care. From your own experience you know well the 
resistance to giving up your sisters to others for care. You also 
know the expense of providing care, not only in terms of dollars, 
but also the human resources needed to provide care over the long 
term. Without the assurance of a critical mass of patients, 
operational costs can quickly become unmanageable. 

OUR CHALLENGE : 

How are we to responsibly address these competing values and 
concepts? What is the Lord asking us to give up or to take on as we 
address the care of one another? 

Our Mission of Caring is clear: caring about ourselves and for one 
another is a challenge to be embraced and accepted, never a problem or a 
burden to be endured. Through our caring with compassion we bring the 
healing ministry of Jesus Christ to one another. In this way we preach 
and care for each other at very special moments in our Dominican lives. 
Our community life, as Fr. Damian Byrne noted in early writings, is our 
first preaching; it is a prophetic witness to and an authenticating sign 
of what we communicate by word of mouth. 

To fulfill our Mission of Caring, and to "reclaim the 
Dominican Vision for the 21st Century", requires strategic prayer, 



26 



thinking, and planning. In this effort we need to call one another to 
the generous and courageous acceptance of all the demands which 
community life makes of us: good stewards of our personal health, 
accountability for the use of our resources, caring for our sisters who 
are troubled and in distress, affirmation and reverence of our elderly 
sisters, compassionate care for those suffering with terminal diseases 
and being present with the dying. This is the healing ministry of Jesus 
Christ; it must also be our own ministry to one another! 

Thank you. 




27 

WORK 

ITS MEANING AND VALUE FOR CONTEMPORARY 
DOMINICAN MONASTIC LIFE 

Sr. Mary Magdalen, O.P. 
Farmington 
"They gazed on God; they ate and they drank" (Ex 24:11b). 

This is not a description of the abbas and ammas of Skete or Nitria or the Cells. 
It belongs, as everyone knows, to an account of the primitive theophany at Sinai. 
But I would like to propose it as a valid paradigm for the monastic enterprise. 
We are seekers after God; but we do spend an impressive part of our lifetime and 
devote tremendous energies to involvement with earthly realities. 
In developing a theology of work, M. D. Chenu, O.P., sets up the problem as 
follows: "We must understand the nature of work and its human and material 
origins in order to appreciate its internal laws and its spiritual needs from a 
Christian standpoint." Let me begin, then, by taking some glimpses into the 
history of thought on the subject of work. 

I. SCME HISTORICAL CONNECTIONS 

In her book, THE HUMAN CONDITION, Hannah Arendt proposes a distinction between 
labor and work based on the etymology of those two words as they have appeared 
in every human language, ancient and modern. "Work" referred to the activity or 
production of the artist or artisan/ craftsman, while "labor" meant bodily toil 
for the necessities of life. These short and incomplete historical notes are 
intended to highlight points of importance for a consideration of work in 
monasticism. 

In classic Greek society, bodily toil or labor was intimately bound up with the 
necessities of life; it was subject to necessity, and was relegated to slaves and 
tame animals. Craftsmen, artists and artisans were differentiated in relation 
to the amount of effort expended, that being the meanest which required the 
greatest expenditure of bodily strength. Thus, sculptors were ranked beneath 
painters, the genius of the immortal Phidias notwithstanding. For the Greeks, 
freedom was opposed to necessity and, therefore, those who labored for the 
necessities of life were "in bondage" to necessity. It was on account of the 
work they did that laborers were slaves, such work being unworthy of free 
persons. The only work really worthy of free persons was a life devoted to the 
affairs of the city-state, or politics. In time, the vita-activa (life of 
activity) was reckoned among the necessities of life and, for both Plato and 
Aristotle, all human activities were subordinate to contemplation and the 
philosophical consideration of truth. 

Christianity introduced, I think, a decisive change in the history of human 
consideration of work and labor, by the very fact that Christ the Lord took upon 
himself a life of humble work. Monasticism tended to be counter-cultural. The 
appreciation of the monks for manual labor as well as their classless society are 
instances of this. 

The transition to a market economy in the late middle ages, as Hannah Arendt 
says, engendered a shift in values and a new distinction: that between 
productive and unproductive labor. In later centuries, there was further 
differentiation between skilled and unskilled work and finally that between 



28 



manual and intellectual labor. 

For Karl Marx, perhaps the greatest of modern labor theorists, the social 
existence of the human person overshadows individual existence. When labor is 
"socialized" and becomes "labor-power" it is then capable of tremendous 
productivity. This marks a crucial turning-point in the history of human work, 
concomitant with the introduction of industrialization and automation. In 
addition, the modern division of labor in assembly-line work tends to blur, in 
some ways, the distinction between skilled and unskilled labor. In today's 
society, a shift in esteem for relative importance of intellectual versus manual 
work is reflected in the wage-scale in some sectors of public life. 

The concept of human self -alienation, according to Copleston, did not originate 
with Marx, but Marx located it in the work experience and made the term famous. 
For Marx, it is precisely in the objectifying of self in what one produces, that 
is, in work, that the self -alienation of the human person comes about, because 
what is produced belongs not to the worker but to someone else. (This, of 
course, is the reason for the Marxist hatred of the capitalist system.) 

II. WORK, DUALISM AND SELF-ALIEHATION 

We have witnessed the failure of dialectical materialism as a political program, 
but I think the existential reality of human self -alienation remains, and I think 
Marx is correct in identifying it within the experience of work. How often do 
we not say: "She puts her whole self into whatever she does." Particularly when 
work is creative in some way, for example, organizing a department or arranging 
and furnishing an infirmary, we care, and care intensely, about how we do things. 
We invest a tremendous amount of energy and hours over a lifetime, on thin gs . 
But things are transient; they pass away. Hence, the self -alienation. The 
ambiguity of our situation is even more apparent in view of monastic respect for 
wholehearted dedication to the task at hand, whatever it may be. This line of 
thought might lead me to say that between my "spiritual" self and the "things" 
I work at there lies a gap, an abyss, a chasm which no intentional ity can bridge. 
But, in developing his theology of work, Fr. Chenu takes issue at the outset with 
this "gap" which can be called anthropological dualism, or Neo-Platonic dualism, 
or just plain dualism. For many years, I have experienced this self -alienation 
in my work, probably because I've been a potter and a sculptor and a maintenance 
person, as well as a seeker after God. It seems to me that the concept of 
dualism has important consequences for work as well as for spirituality. 

Dualism, of course, is the affirmation of two principles: matter and spirit, and 
matter versus spirit. For Plotinus, God is transcendent, pure, One, utterly 
simple. He is to be reached by separation frcm all that is earthly, bodily, 
material, multiple. (You can see the implications for work, and again, the idea 
of alienation.) The physical universe in all its beauty is not understood as 
imaging back to its Creator. It is, rather, multiplicity , distracting from the 
One . 

I find a strain of Neo-Platonic thought in Christianity from earliest times right 
to the present. It seems to me that Christian mysticism owes much to the thought 
of Plotinus, which has influenced Origen, Evagrius , the Cappadocians, Pseudo- 
Dionysius, Augustine, and others. This same strain of thought appears in the 



^9 



Middle Ages, for example in John Scotus Eriugena; later, in Eckhart and the 
Rhineland mystics. 

We find dualistic thought at its low level, "matter is evil", in the Albigen- 
sians, and later in Quietism and Jansenism, whence some influences have filtered 
into the Post-Tridentine religious foundations and into the re-foundations, 
including the Dominican nuns. 

We see this same thought affecting our thinking about work when we say that what 
we do is unimportant "because it's not spiritual"; it is important only as an 
occasion for merit or for its moral dimension. Listen to it now, in the monastic 
literature, in the Apothegms of the Fathers: "It was said of her (Arrma Sarah) 
that for sixty years she lived beside a river and never lifted her eyes to look 
at it." And again: 

One day a brother came to Abba John to take away some 
baskets [to market them for the old man]. He came out 
and said to him, "What do you want, brother?" He said, 
"Baskets, abba." Going inside to bring them to him, he 
forgot them, and sat down to weave. [This happened 
three times.] Then, taking him by the hand, Abba John 
led him inside, saying, "If you want the baskets, take 
them and go away, because really, I have no time for 
such things. 

According to this orientation, the religious quest is, after all, a quest for 
"higher things"; in the end we will slough off the body and the work of our 
hands, and the unimpeded spirit will rise to be united to the Godhead. But 
doesn't this perception remove us from the full scope of the Incarnation of God, 
from created reality, and from history? It says that between ourselves and the 
work of our hands, as well as the physical universe, there is no real connection; 
there is only a moral and ethical one. Such thinking, it seems to me, betrays 
a lack of respect for the ontological being of the world we live in, and it 
leaves (some of us) with the unresolved experience of alienation. 

III. THE OBJECTIVE DIMENSION 
The Eschatological Finality of Earthly Realities 

All of this section is simply to say that what we do and how we do it does indeed 
have meaning and value. After all, as God made matter and things, he would stop 
and admire and pronounce them "good." "Far from being remote, God is immediate 
to us in our very materiality." 

St. Irenaeus gives us a golden formula: "God created matter in time, in order 
that man, nurtured in matter, should crown it with immortality." What bridges 
the gap between spirit and matter or between humans and the cosmos is the human 
person, body-spirit composite, in wholeness and integrity. We expend vast 
amounts of time and energy on matter and the world of sense. And the teaching 
of Vatican II is clear: "To believers, this point is settled: considered in 
itself, such human activity accords with God's will....' 

Evidence abounds in the monastic tradition, right alongside Neo-Platonism, for 
what we sometimes call "the Aristotelian view" (which later became the Aristote- 



30 



lian/Thomistic synthesis) — a much more holistic treatment of human existence. 
We see Anthony the Great emerging at the age of fifty-five from twenty years' 
struggle with the demons, in peak physical condition, having attained (as far as 
possible) to the state of humanity before the Fall. Again, at the end of his 
life, the Father of Monks retires to the "Interior Mountain" to prepare for 
death, but he plants a vegetable garden "in order to have something to feed his 
guests." 1 That is, the human body and the physical universe are portrayed as 
good and worthwhile. 

Note that things are to be related to God through humanity, or through the human 
person. Moreover, as Pope John Paul II teaches in Laborem Exercens, humans image 
God as creator in that he has left to us a part of his own work to finish. 
"Humans share by their work in the activity of the creator. . .and in a sense 
continue to develop that activity." Not only that, but we have the promise 
of "a new heavens and a new earth" (Rv 21:1). "The freedom in glory for which 
the new man, the child of God... waits, is what has been promised; and in this 
promise even the body... even the world, share," says Karl Barth in his 
beautiful exegesis of the eighth chapter of Romans. And again, "the whole 
universe is destined to eschatological participation in the glory of Christ." 

I want to affirm the goodness of the sensible world which we humans, for good and 
for ill, have done so much to transform. Fr. Chenu has it: "...Christ 
recapitulates in [hu]man[s] the whole of reality, .. .all creation enters in some 
way, through the glorification of the sons [and daughters] of God, into the 
economy of salvation. This holistic doctrine takes into account all the 
fruits of human genius, all the work of artists and artisans as well as that 
child of human imagination — the computer. Finally, Pope John Paul II proclaims 
that Christ, the man of work, "has appreciation and respect for human work. . . he 
looks with love upon human work and the different forms that it takes." Is 
not this perspective an affirmation of the part that monastics have traditionally 
played in the development of human culture? And can we not include here, the 
reverence for creation implied for us in the present period of history: that is, 
concern for the environment and support for ecological advances? 

IV. THE SUBJECTIVE DIMENSION 

The change in thought about work (referred to earlier) which Christianity 
introduces, seems not to have been understood or appreciated fully, until the 
advent of the social teaching of the modern popes. Even today, within the Church 
and secular society as well, this teaching awaits recognition and will not be 
easily implemented. Pope John Paul sounds revolutionary as he insists 
repeatedly, 

as a person, man is... the subject of work. . . [Tlhe 
primary basis of the value of work is man himself , who 
is its subject. .. .[In] the first place, work is "for 
man" and not man "for work." Through this conclusion 
one rightly comes to recognize the preeminence of the 
subjective meaning of work over the objective one.... 
[E]ach sort [of work, he goes on to say] is judged above 
all by the measure of the dignity of the subject of 
work, that is to say, the person, the individual who 
carries it out . . . . [I]t is always man who is the purpose 



31 



of the work ... even if the common scale of values rates 
it as the merest "service," as the most monotonous, even 
the most alienating. 

The name of the "subjective factor" in monastic work should be, I submit, human 
develotxnent . Developmental psychologists postulate certain stages in the human 
life cycle, for each of which there exists a task to be accomplished for the 
growth of the human person into full maturity. Happiness at the end of life 
depends on the generosity with which one negotiates these successive stages. 
This is not to suggest that those responsible for assigning work in the monastery 
must tailor the task to each individual's supposed stage of development. Rather 
it is to say that there should be an awareness of the potential of work for 
contributing to the moral and psychological maturity and the human balance called 
for by our Constitutions (cf. LCM 25, II; 26, IV; and 105 I). These echo Gaudium 
et Spes (#67) of Vatican II, when they draw attention to the exercise of the 
"powers of mind and heart" and the enhancing of the "gifts of nature and grace" 
as we give ourselves to our work (LCM 104). Responsibility for one's own work 
and utilization of each one's gifts within the framework of the common good 
provide realistic impetus for personal growth (cf. LCM 20 II). And the call to 
service prevents a narcissistic preoccupation with one's own development. 

From her hands-on experience of factory work, Simone Weil, though pre-dating the 
Pope some forty-five years, fleshes out his insistence on the preeminence of the 
subjective factor: "...these actions must all serve to realize his humanity." 
Simone wanted a thorough study of the instruments of labor, no longer from the 
technical point of view, but "from that of their relation to the human person and 
to human thought." She wrote that 

work, in order to become that of a free person, must be 
pervaded by thought, invention, and judgment. One must 
therefore find machines of a different kind. . .consider- 
ing them not only in terms of their efficiency, but also 
in terms of how much thought they permit or demand of 
the worker. 

In this context, may I suggest that the choice of "work which supplies the 
necessities of life for the monastery" (LCM 107, I) be not too "narrowly 
specialized, monotonous, and depersonalizing." 2 

Also, can we hope that the monastic work which might be chosen would be of a kind 
which contributes useful or necessary items or services, rather than marketing 
luxury items in a society already sated with consumer goods? This, admittedly 
an ideal, would seem to be in keeping with LCM 31, which demands of us a 
solidarity with the working poor, and with the Order's "preferential option for 
the poor . " 

V. THE EFFECTS OF (XNTEMPORARY SOCIETY ON MONASTIC WORK 

"The Cistercian [read: Dominican monastic] life is energetic," says Thomas 

Merton. 

There are tides of vitality running through the whole 
community that generate energy even in people who are 
lazy. And here at Gethsemani we are at the same time 



32 



Cistercians and Americans. It is in some respects a 
dangerous combination. Our energy runs away with us. 
We go out to work like a college football team taking 
the field. 21 

It would be hard to overestimate the tyranny of the clock in our contemporary 

Western culture. The pace of modern life in industrialized societies probably 

needs no description even in this gathering. Someone from a small town visiting 

Canada's mega-metropolis, Toronto, asked, at a subway station, "Who is chasing 

all those people?" What should be noted is that this frenetic pace has invaded 

the monasteries . Beginning the day at cock-crow, in earlier societies, allowed 

for significant variation according to the amount of adrenalin in one's own or 

the neighbor's bird. Times for doing things would have varied with the seasons. 

Primitive war and agriculture allowed for significant "times off" or periods of 

leisure. The number of holy days or holidays boggle the modern mind: 175 

holidays were observed annually in 4th century Rome! And Rahner tells us: 

Work itself contained the unexpected and unplanned- for; 

it was always open to the novel intervention, it did not 

of itself prescribe a fixed rate of procedure. It could 

easily be adapted to men's moods; they could sing at it, 

talk to each other, sit more loosely to it by taking 

short rests or performing civic or religious rites and 

so on. 

If the demon that pursues monastics in the late twentieth century can be given 
a name, that name, I think, should be the one Anne Lindberg offers: zerrissen- 
heit, "torn-to-pieces-hood. If we take Evagrius's famous description of 
acedia (in the twelfth chapter of the Praktikos ) and fill in all those gaps in 
the monk's long, slow day with work, activity, hustle and bustle, we have a 
picture of the hyperactive, workaholic nun. There is no laziness here, but there 
is no time for study, lectio, or quiet prayer either. 

In our own day, perhaps the chief damage inflicted upon the monastic ethos by 
labor-saving devices is the erosion of prayer at work. We accomplish so much 
more without really doing it. We push buttons and go away and do other things 
and come back and the job is done. Automation tends to steal away the intervals, 
those precious bits of time-between. The temptation is strong to make use of the 
odd moments to push yet another button and get yet another job done, instead of 
falling back into one's primordial freedom and meeting the Lord in the inner 
spaces of the heart. 

What Thomas Merton suggests to me is that, underneath their habits, American 
monastics are still "Junior/Senior American Achievers." The question is, can we 
be a part of our historical moment and our culture and still preserve monastic 
values? If efficiency, accomplishment, achievement, are the gods of activism, 
then it seems to me that the monastic response to the American work ethic is the 
same as our response to the world, i.e. , love what is good in it, resist what is 
futile and false and alien. The recovery of the meaning and value of work for 
contemporary monastic life might require the paradoxical strategy of simply 
reducing it: declare a free day once a week and investigate the benefits of 
leisure. Someone questioned Abba Biare in these words, "What shall I do to 
be saved?" He replied, "Go, reduce your appetite and your manual work, dwell 



33 

without care in your cell and you will be saved.' 

VI. PRAYER AT WORK, WORK FOR PRAYER 23 

While the whole movement of the nun's life as journey into God is her essential 
"work," our Constitutions (LCM 106, II) define work as "any activity, manual or 
intellectual, in which the nuns engage," but which is relegated in terms of 
allotment of time to a place after prayer, reading, choir practice and study. 
So much for priorities; what about the "unceasing prayer" of the monastic 
tradition? 

"The whole purpose of the monk and indeed the perfection of his heart," says John 
Cassian, "amount to this: total and uninterrupted dedication to prayer. . .This 
is the reason for our tireless and unshaking practice of both physical work and 
contrition of heart." In a census in my monastery, housework and gardening 
showed strongly as kinds of work at which one can pray easily. One sister puts 
it well: 

automation, technology, tend to take the burden off the 
body and put it on the mind. . .whereas the prayerful 
quality of monastic work is exactly the opposite: 
leaving the mind free while the rhythmic motion of the 
body creates the atmosphere of tranquility necessary for 
thought and union with God. 

In his Ninth Conference on Prayer (Chapter 3), we have in a nutshell the whole 
structure of Cassian's ascetical program, inherited from Evagrius. Let us note 
for how that he gives special attention to predispositions for prayer—physical 
as well as spiritual, external as well as internal. "In advance of prayer," he 
says, "we must strive to dispose ourselves as we would wish to be during prayer. 
The praying spirit is shaped by its own earlier condition." What he is 
talking about here, I think, is that "harmonious ordering of the whole of our 
lives for the continual remembrance of God" of which our Constitutions speak (cf . 
LCM 74, IV). 

I have talked earlier in this paper about the objective meaning and value of 
human work. "God is immersed to the elbows in our materiality" -and we can 
find him in our very consubstantiality with the "stuff" of our everyday world. 
Brother Lawrence "found God everywhere, as much while he was repairing shoes as 
while he was praying with the community." "When eating an orange, eat the 
orange" the Zen Master will say. Do what you are doing and you will find God 
there. 



What about work that engages the mind to a degree that prevents ruminating on the 

Scriptures, repeating phrases from the psalms or the antiphons of the Office? 

Fabio Giardini, O.P. , in his book PRAYERFULNESS , A PSYCHOTHFOLOGICAL SEARCH INTO 

THE MEANING OF PRAYER, elucidates for us how the person of prayer remains united 

to God-within, even during the most demanding intellectual activity. He writes: 

To be prayerfully aware of God's presence can not 

require any (actually impossible) unceasing conscious 

attention to the Lord throughout all daily occupations. 

It only demands that we become more and more pervaded 

with the subconscious awareness of God's presence in our 



34 



whole life. . . 

[He goes on: ] 

. . .when the acts of prayer are over, our conscious 
attention to the Lord cannot but end also, because 
during our daily occupations the conscious attention of 
our mind ought to focus on our work. ...the knowledge 
and love of God which that conscious attenti on has 
cultivated, confirmed, and deepened should not stop but 
be carried over by the subconscious awareness of the 
same Lord, which can be kept through all daily occupa- 
tions. Like two sentries taking successive turns... so 
the conscious attention to and the subconscious aware- 
ness of the Lord should uninterruptedly follow each 
other in the spirit of the prayerful person. 

Giardini's careful text suggests an ambience of quietude, simplicity and harmony, 
or in other words, the predispositions for prayer that ought to prevail in the 
life of the Dominican nun. 

VII. CONCLUSION 

We are not untouched, undisturbed, by the culture we live in. Our forebears of 
past centuries would be unable to comprehend the pace of life in our monasteries 
today. To counter the inroads of activism in our lives, I think we must first 
reclaim the vision: "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps. 45:11). We must see 
ourselves as seekers after God. How terrible to put accomplishment, achievement, 
ahead of that knowing of God which is eternal life! 

In the concrete, the monastery chapters have competence to discern and establish 
the right balance in the schedule, to prioritize correctly, and especially to 
provide the leisure time mandated by our Constitutions, #106. As the nuns mature 
in religious life, there should be suitable freedom to organize each one's 
personal schedule so as to reduce tension at work. While appropriate steps need 
to be taken when there is objective overload, is it too simplistic to suggest 
that personal discipline is often the first remedy called for by stress at work? 

In particular, I would like to highlight two factors which I think will be 
important for the future: Study and Formation. 

Study. As this paramount Dominican observance takes hold in the monasteries, 
activism will diminish. Here may I salute the Conference council and priest 
consultant for their timely and farsighted leadership in this area. Study exerts 
its own fascination: we now see nuns unashamed to spend afternoon hours reading 
in their cells. Workaholism and activism will recede in the measure that we make 
prior concerns real priorities in the daily schedule. 

Formation : Adapted, rethought, revitalized, Cassian's teaching can be 
transplanted into our time and culture. Three elements from his teaching would 
seem to be of greatest importance: reciprocity , the working- together and mutual 
influence of all the monastic practices; self-discipli ne, beginning with personal 
asceticism; and balance , the new name for discernment or discretion. (There is 



35 



a tremendous need, I think, to establish the right balance in the schedule, to 
prioritize correctly.) Let me demonstrate, if I can, the interplay of these 
three elements in a work situation, as such interplay might be taught to novices: 

Housework (which probably needs to be minimal ized) and gardening are apt 
examples, as stated earlier, of work for prayer. The prayer formula of Cassian's 
Conference 10, or something similar, would be used: "0 God, come to my 
assistance. Lord, make haste to help me." But we cannot pray, at work or 
elsewhere, without some degree of stillness of soul. The desert ethos is 
insistent about the value of fasting for the quieting of the passions and 
progress in virtue. Perhaps the new word for fasting, since so many candidates 
have health problems, would be diet, or better, self-discipline in one's diet. 
A proper diet is necessary for bodily health and is at the same time an 
opportunity for serious self-discipline. The rhythm which enables prayer at work 
must be calm and unhurried, yet balance for the sake of other elements in the 
horarium requires that the time be limited. The loving union with God, learned 
in prayer-at-work, results in the reciprocal benefit of growing ease in the 
practice of the virtues. Faithfully, regularly, steadily practiced with gentle 
insistence, such work situations will come to be cherished by the novice. 
Attention to prayer at work, such a large element in the monastic fathers' 
teaching, as well as at prayer-time, will implant subconscious awareness of God, 
arming her for eventual incorporation into the community and the encounter with 
zerrissenheit. 

This gathering this afternoon, Friday, September twenty-fifth, is perhaps unique 
among the thousands of important meetings taking place in this country today. 
It is a gathering of rare birds . We have come from East and West, North and 
South. If this meeting could be transposed back fifteen and a half centuries, 
what would it look like? We'd have arrived on foot, sunbaked and dusty, with 
deeply tanned skin and a fair bit of it showing (the habit at the beginning was 
a sleeveless linen shift...). Desert dwellers, the desert ascetics: the call 
we have answered is the same as theirs! The ethos of the desert has always been 
counter-cultural. We have managed, in late twentieth-century America, to 
preserve islands of withdrawal and solitude in the midst of some of this 
country's largest cities! A tiny minority in a vast population, a call rarely 
given. 

Our response to the call that has been offered us lies, I suggest, in a return 
to the center, not in a conservatism which tends to preserve structures while 
stifling life, but in a conversion of heart which reaches to the very core of the 
monastic ethos. And so we have come to this momentous gathering on the brink of 
the twenty-first century, by car, by plane, by jumbo jet (we do not regret 
progress). We have come to reclaim, as we have said, a vision. The occasion may 
be important but we try to be humble. For we really are, I hope, simple and 
humble women, like our desert forebears. Standing alongside the poor (I hope) 
we work at humble labor, with hands, hearts, and minds. Sisters and daughters 
of Dominic, our lives have to be, ultimately, love. Love and reverence for all 
God's creation, which shares our travail . Love and reverence for one another and 
our brothers, the friars. Love and reverence for all races, all creeds, all 
colors; all of, humankind, in other words, progressing as we are toward the 
Redemption. We are "monos": alone, with God, in whom all things exist, and 
therefore one with the entire cosmos. 



36 



Notes 



1. M. D. Chenu, 0.?., THE THEOLOGY CF WORK, tr. Lilian Soi row, (Chicago: 
P.egr.ery Co., 1966) p. 3. 

2. Hannah Arendt, THE HUMAN CONDITION , (New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 

1953). I am indebted to Ms. Arendt for most of this section. 



3. Frederick Copleston, A HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY , (New York: Doubleday 
Co., 1965) 7 : part 2, chs. 15 and 16. 



4. THE DESERT CHRISTIAN: Sayings of the Desert Father s, trans. M. 
Benedict a Ward, S.L.G., Macmi 1 1 an Co . , Inc., N.Y. 1975, p. 230, no. 3. 

5. Ibid., p. 91, no. 30. 

6. Cf. SPIRITUALITIES OF THE HEART, ed. Ami ce Callahan, R.S.C.J., (New 
York: Paulist Press, 1990) esp. ch. 2: rrenaeus: At the Heart of Life, Glory, 
Mary Ann Donovan, S.C., pp. 11-22. See also ADULTHOOD , ed. Erik Erikson, (New 
York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1978) Chapter: "Christian Adulthood", pp. 80-96. 
Numerous other sources could be cited. 

7. Chenu, THEOLOGY OF WORK , p. 104. 

8. Gaudium et Spes, THE DOCUMENTS OF VATICAN II , Abbot-Gallagher edition, 
(New York: Guild Press, 1966) #34. See also #67. 

9. St. Athanasius, THE LIFE OF ANTONY , (New York: Paulist Press, 1980) 

p. 42. 

10. Ibid. , p. 69. 

11. Pope John Paul II, LABOREM EXERCENS: ENCYCLICAL ON HUMAN WORK, 
(Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1981) ch. 25, p. 57. (Hereinafter cited as L.E.) 

12. Karl Barth, THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS , 6th ed. , tr. Edwyn C. Hoskyns 
(Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1933, 1960) p. 309. 

13. SACRAMENTUM MUNDI , ed. Karl Rahner, S.J. et al . , "Natural Law" (New 
York: Herder and Herder, 1970) 6: 157-164. 

14. M. D. Chenu, "Work", SACRAMENTUM MUNDI , 6: 369. 

15. L.E. , ch. 26, p. 59. 

16. cf . L.E. , ch. 6, pp. 16-17. 

17. cf. Erik Erikson, "Reflections on Dr. Borg's Life Cycle", ADULTHOOD , 
ed. Erik Erikson (New York: W. W. Norton S< Co., 1978) =h. 1. 



37 



13. L.E. , ch. 6, p. 15. 

19. Simone Petrement, SIMONE WEIL: R LIFE , tr. Raymond Rosenthal [New 
York: Pantheon Books, 1976) p. 24C. 



n i 



?homas Merton, THE SIGN OF JONAS (Mew York: Harcourt , Brace S Co. 



1953) p. 41. 

::. G. Dahl, WORK., PLAY AND WORSHIP , quoted by Michael Ryan in SOL I BAP. IT "/ 
(London, Ontario: Divine Word Publications,, 1986). 

23. Karl Rahner , THEOLOGICAL IN V ESTIGATIONS (Baltimore, Md: Helicon 
Press, 1966) vol. 4, ch. 16, "Theological Remarks on the Problem of Leisure", 
p. 381. 

24. Anne Morrow Lindbergh, GIFT FROM THE SEA (New York: Random. House, 
1978) p. 56. 

25. For an analysis of acedia , cf . Joseph Pieper, LEISURE: THE BASIS SF 
CULTURE (New York: Pantheon Books, 1963) ch. 3, pp. 38 ff. 

26. Cf. Pieper, op. cit. 

27. THE DESERT CHRISTIAN , p. 44, #1. 

28. This section presupposes that my audience is familiar with M. Marie 
Rosaria's excellent paper, "Manual Labor, A Monastic observance for Dominican 
Nuns", DOMINICAN MONASTIC SEARCH, vol. 10, (Fall/Winter 1991), pp. 51-62. 

29. John Cassian, CONFERENCES , Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers of the 
Christian Church, tr. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 
Publishing Co., 1964) vol. 11, ch. 2, p. 387. 

30. This paper reflects the thoughts of many of my sisters, both in my own 
and in other monasteries, for which I am most grateful. 

31. Cassian, ch. 3. 

32. SPIRITUALITIES OF THE HEART , ?. 12. 

33. Brother Lawrence, THE PRACTICE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD (Philadelphia 
Pa.: Whi taker House, 1982) p. 90. 

34. Eileen P. O'Hea, C.S.J. , "Detachment in Our Psychological Age", REVIEW 
FOR RELIGIOUS, (July/Aug 1992) p. 541. 

35. Fabio Giardim, P.P., PRAYERFULNESS , A PSYCHOLOGICAL SEARCH INTO THE 
MEANING CF PRAYER , (Milan: Massino, 1984) ?. 53. 'Emphasis nine] . See alsi 7 . 
67 , paragraph 1 . 



38 



PURSUING COMMUNION IN GOVERNMENT 



ROLE OF COMMUNITY CHAPTER 



Father Malachy O'Dwyer 



Introduction 



At first sight one might wonder what might be the 
relationship between Dominican Vision and Communion in 
Government. Surely, it will be said that the vision of the 
Dominican Family is to be found in the first section of the 
Book of Constitutions dealing with the life of the brothers or 
of the sisters -- in those parts dealing with religious 
consecration, prayer, study, ministry or work, formation -- 
rather than in the second section dealing specifically with 
government. At least it is not likely that one who sets out to 
capture the spirit, the charism, of the Dominican Order, will 
begin with the section on government. 



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But whatever the precise proportion might be, it must be 
admitted that we give a lot of space to matters dealing 
specifically with government, with how we organize ourselves. 



Inspiration and Institution 



I would argue that, unless we understand the laws, the 
norms, which govern our relationships within the family of 
Dominic and within each of its parts, it is very difficult to 
have a true understanding of the vision which Dominic had "when 
he founded the Order. Dominic has not left us writings of any 
substance but he has bequeathed to us institutions which embody 
his spirit and his vision. Hence the importance for us to 
appreciate and to be a part of these living institutions. 



39 



Unfortunately, for some time we have been caught up in a 
tide of an t i-1 egal ism which has swept through the Church. It 
was felt that an excessive emphasis on legal norms had blurred 
the basic vision of the Christian vocation and there was 
obviously much truth in this. But for us the vision and the 
spirit of Dominic are so interwoven into the fabric of the 
norms, the organization, which rule our lives, that one cannot 
ignore the latter without running the risk of losing sight of 
the former . 

These (Constitutions) rule us and not the ideas of 
any individual or individuals. We are Dominicans and 
our life is only possible as long as we obey our 
laws . 



( Bede Jarrett , 
1929," Letters 



"Letter to George Bowring, 30 July 
of Bede Jarrett (Downside Abbey and 
Blackfriars Publications, 1989), p. 148.) 



If we are to recover or reclaim the Dominican vision for 
the 21st century we must look to the institutions which have 
been bequeathed to us. And it is only through living them in 
practice that we will regain that vision to which we all 
"subscribe thoughtlessly." 

... but all subscribe thoughtlessly to many beliefs, 
the truth of which does not strike home to us until 
experience gives them reality. Wisdom may be rented, 
so to speak, on the experience of other people, but 
we buy it at an inordinate price before we make it 
our own forever. 



(Robertson Davies, 
1986), p. 428.) 



The Salterton Trilog y (Penguin, 



If we base our appreciation of the Dominican vision on the 
first section of our constitutions, then it is rented, second- 
hand and incomplete. It is only when we live according to the 
second section of those same constitutions that we truly 
discover the reality of our vocation and make it our own. 



Charism and Community 

Marie-Humbert Vicaire is very explicit in affirming the 

connection between the charism of Dominic and the community 

which he founded. The thread of Dominic's inspiration is 

finely interwoven into the fabric of the life of the community. 



The genius of the Father of the Friars Preachers was 
to have invented a community capable of inspiring, 
forming and making use of such preachers, planting 



40 



them on Christian soil as well as beyond it. No one 
in the West up till then succeeded in doing this. No 
evangelical preacher had succeeded in handing on his 
charism and his ministry by means of a community that 
was lasting and effective. 

(Marie-Humbert Vicaire, O.P., The Genius of St . 
Dominic (Dominican Publications, Nagpur, India), 
pp. 77-78.) 

Vicaire also points out the principal method which Dominic 
used to ensure both the continuation and the development of his 
vision and inspiration. 



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(ibid., p. 41.) 



Dominic's vision, his inspiration, is communicated to his 
brethren in such a way that it becomes the creation of all. He 
inspired others by sharing his vision and allowing it to take 
root and mature in them in such a manner that it seems to come 
as much from themselves as from him. He allows them to make it 
their own and give it a shape to their own liking. 



41 



The care with which he sought 
the best effort he was capab 
another characteristic of St. Do 
fraternal communion, 
the collective activity, wheth 
discipline, he gave precedenc 
communion. . . . His spontane 
community of his brethren, his d 
one the maximum of initiative 
our common work is concerned, 
seeing the system work was seen 
last days of his life at the conv 



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gisla 
e f r 
dence 
give 
i tmen 
vious 
ant ly 
logna 



person 
us to 
ire for 
ncerned 
t ion or 
at ernal 

in the 
to each 
t where 

joy at 

in the 



(ibid., pp. 121-122.) 



The mechanism by which this is achieved is very simple. 

He brings the brethren together and tells them that they must 

decide how they shall live and work together. This coming 

together, this sharing and deciding together, is what we call 
"Chapter." 



Person and Project 

The shape which Dominic gave to his Order seems very 
simple. But it is important to understand the implications, 
the unspoken and unwritten values which lie beneath the fabric 
of our way of life. 



trus 

simp 

hand 

as 

illu 

circ 

to 

that 

God 

conv 

othe 

way 

crea 

like 

bret 

disc 

came 

spea 

pres 

knew 

sayi 

knew 

unde 

ques 



We c 
t and 
le one 

of Go 
a prea 
minatio 
umst anc 
the ne 

he mu 
speaki 
inced 
r than 

that 
te a 

to 
hren 
iple 

to 
king 
ence 

that 
ng to 

that 
rstood 
t ion o 



an 

con 
. H 
d la 
cher 
n b 
es 
eds 
st b 
ng 
that 

his 
all 
spac 
hink 
s s 
amue 
oin 
o t 
s S 

if 

the 

it 

the 
f h 



begin 
f idenc 
e was 
y upon 

was 
ut ra 
of hi 

of o 
e at te 
to hi 
God 

own t 

wi thi 
e in 

that 
imi lar 
1 (cf. 
him we 
hem , 
amue 1 

he w 
m , he 

might 
Lord 
a ving 



by 
e i 
prof 

eve 

not 
ther 
s li 
ther 
ntiv 
m t 

was 

hen 

n t 

whi c 

Do 

to 

I S 
re c 
that 

had 
ere 

wou 
be 

had 

a 



askin 
n his 
oundly 
ry t hi n 

one 

one 
f e , an 
s. Th 
e to t 
hrough 

inde 
he had 
he fa 
h all 
minic 

that 
amuel 
ailed 
they 

in t 

to d 

Id ha v 

some 
said 
ready- 



g, "Wh 
comp 

a man 
g and 

that 

which 
d espe 
e less 
he voi 

the 
ed spe 

to or 
mily 
would 

saw 
be tw 
3). 

by the 
had co 
he pre 
iscove 
e to 1 
thing 
to him 
made 



y di 
anio 

of 
ever 

cam 
em 
cial 
on h 
ces 
live 
akin 
gani 
coul 
feel 
his 
een 
Domi 

Lor 
me t 
senc 
r w 
i st e 

ove 

per 
mold 



d Do 
ns?" 
God, 
yone 
e t 
erge 
ly f 
e 1 e 
of o 
s of 
g to 
ze h 
d b 
f re 
re 1 
the 
nic 
d an 
o se 
e of 
hat 
n to 
r a 
sona 
car 



mime p 
The 

convin 
. His 
o him 
d slow 
rom bei 
arned f 
thers , 

others 

him t h 
i s f ami 
e heard 
e t o co 
at ionsh 

priest 
knew th 
d that 
rve the 

Eli . 
it was 

t hem . 
nd abo 
lly. 
ef ul 1 y 



lace s 

answe 

eed t h 

own vo 

in a 
ly fr 
ng at t 
rom th 
to lis 
. If 
rough 
ly in 
He 
nt ribu 
ip w i 

Eli a 
at tho 
the Lo 

Lord 
Like E 
the Lo 

And h 
v e wh 
There 
prepar 



o much 
r i s a 
at the 
cation 
sudden 
om the 
en t i v e 
is was 
ten to 
he was 
voices 
such a 
had to 
te. I 
th his 



his 
who 
was 
his 
he 



nd 

St 

rd 

i n 

li, 
rd was 
e a 1 s c 
at he 
was no 
ed and 



42 



into which 
would be 



his companions would have to fit and by 
formed. He was well aware that their 



maintained 

Which they w u u x u u c i u j.- hi c u • hc v» a o ncxj. a r» a i" e tiiau unei 

vocation was not of his making but a free gift of God which h 
should accept humbly and cherish. 



If they were 
preaching, they had 
of the one who 
every member of 
to each . Only 
wished for the 
which respected 



called to join him in his project of 
first of all to be attentive to the voice 
had called them. And it was important that 
the group should know what the Lord was saying 
in this way could it be known what the Lord 
group as a whole. A system had to be devised 
both the freedom of God to speak as he wished 
and the freedom of each to express their understanding of what 
God was saying to each personally. 



Also I 

communi 

novices 

patient 

always 

but at 

i t wen 

the r 

gardene 

you di 

cultiva 

bit a 

richnes 

believe 

themsel 

you mo 

mutuali 



wou 

ty 

s 

ly, 

sue 
th 
t w 
ole 
r . 

dn't 
te 

bout 
s 

i 
ves . 
re 
ty o 



Id s 

me 
ever 
try 
ceed 
e ti 
ith 

of 
You 

co 
what 

be 
in 
n 

Y 
than 
f be 



ay t 
etin 
ybod 
ing 

me I 
a s 

su 

di 
me t 

is 
ing 
the 
them 
ou 

yo 
lief 



hat w 
gs, 

y» 

to 

Looki 

thou 

trong 

perio 

dn't 

o imp 

ther 

a s 

bret 

mo 

can o 

u do 



e ha 
wit 

t ry i 

reac 

ng 

ght 
bel 

r w 

come 

ose 

e . 

uper 

hren 

re 

nly 
in 



dag 
h e 
ng 

h a 
back 
we di 
ief , 
as g 

to b 
your 
That, 
ior 
T 

than 
do th 

your 



ood 
very 
to 
cons 

now 
d we 
for 
oing 
ring 
idea 

I t 

he 

t 
at i 
self 



long 
body 
disc 
ensu 

, I 
11. 
me a 
to 
you 
s; y 
hink 
to 

chal 
hey 
f th 



tra 

uss 
s . 
see 

I t 
t le 

be 
r ow 
our 
, is 
disc 
leng 

be 
ey b 
so i 



di tio 
s tude 

guie 
We di 
we fa 
hink 
ast , 

lik 
n vis 
bit i 

the 
over 
e is 
lieve 
eliev 
t is 



n of 
nts , 
tly, 
dn't 
iled 
that 
that 
e a 
ion ; 
s to 
best 
the 
to 
i n 
e in 
like 



(Timothy Radcliffe, 
election as Master 
guestion, "What was 
authority as prior 
as provincial?") 



Interview for IDI, after his 

of the Order -- reply is to the 

it like to begin the service of 

of Blackfriars? And afterwards, 



Nature and Nurture 

The system devised by Dominic must have seemed to some a 
sure recipe for anarchy and disintegration. But in fact the 
miracle is that the family of Dominic has never in its 700 
years lost its unity. If not a blueprint for self-destruction, 
it must have seemed to many a dream, an ideal, for a utopic 
society in which everyone had an egual right to say what they 
wished and the assurance that they would be heard respectfully. 



Let me read to you part of the conclusion of a book 
entitled Culture and Society , written by Raymond Williams, in 
which he proposes that the only way forward for modern society 
is through a system of mutual sharing and participation. When 



43 



I first read this book a number of years ago, I reflected then 

that this, for a Dominican, was no dream for the future but a 

living reality -- or, at least, that our system tried to make 

it a lived reality. But let Williams speak for himself. 



A c 

unkn 

comm 

cann 

unkn 

cult 

for 

cont 

the 

need 

posi 

ever 

know 

enri 

what 



ultu 
own , 
unit 
ot 
own 
ure , 

but 
ribu 

com 
to 
tion 
y v 
th 
ch 
ever 



re , wh 

i n 
y is 
preced 
expe 
will 
act i 
te to 
mon n 
liste 
We 
alue , 
e fut 
it; w 
may b 



ile 

pa 
alwa 
e c 
rien 
, b 
vely 

th 
eed . 
n to 

ne 

wi t 

ure , 

e c 

e of 



it is 
r t u 
ys an 
reati 
ce . 
ecaus 
enc 
e ad 
Wh 

othe 
ed t 
h our 

we c 
an on 
f ered 



bei 
nrea 

exp 
on , 

A 
e o 
oura 
vane 
erev 
rs w 
o c 

who 
an n 

ly, 

and 



ng 1 i v 
li zed . 
lorat i 
and th 
good 
f thi 
ge al 
e in c 
er we 
ho s t a 
onside 
le att 
ever b 
now , 1 
take 



ed , 

T 
on , 
ere 
comm 
s , n 
1 a 
onsc 
have 
rted 
r e 
enti 
e ce 
iste 
up w 



is alwa 
he mak 
for con 
is no f 
unity , 
ot only 
nd any 
iousnes 
s t ar t e 
from a 
very a 
on; for 
rtain o 
n to an 
hat we 



y s l 
i ng 
scio 
ormu 

a 

mak 

wh 

s wh 

d fr 

dif 
1 1 ac 

we 
f wh 
d co 
can . 



n part 
of a 
usness 
la for 
living 
e room 
o can 
i ch is 
om , we 
f eren t 
hmen t , 
do not 
at may 
nsider 



The practical liberty of thought and expression is 
less a natural right than a common necessity. The 
growth of understanding is so difficult that none of 
us can arrogate to himself, or to an institution or a 
class, the right to determine its channels of 
advance. To tolerate only this or that, according to 
some given formula, is to submit to the fantasy of 
having occupied the future and fenced it into 
fruitful or unfruitful ground. 

We have to plan what can be planned, according to our 
common decision. But the emphasis of the idea of 
culture is right when it reminds us that a culture, 
essentially, is unplannable. We have to ensure the 
means of life, and the means of community. But what 
will then, by these means, be lived, we cannot know 
or say . 

(Raymond Williams, Culture and Society (Pelican), 
p. 320.) 



He is 

dimens 

from 

take 

affair 

before 

person 

to cr 

vital 

this 

provid 



Raym 
no 
ion 
a n 
into 
s, 

hand 
, w 
eat'e 
for 
and 
e a 



ond W 

t cone 

of h 

atural 

acco 
in th 
, to 
hat he 

an 
ces w 
he di 

spac 



illi 

erne 

uman 

po 

unt 

e 1 

pre 

may 

en vi 

hi ch 

d cr 

e f o 



ams is 
d, at 

exper 
int of 

the 
if e o 
de t erm 

be as 
ronmen 

are 
eate s 
r indi 



, of co 
least n 
ience . 

view , 
factor 
f each 
ine , wh 
king of 
t wh ic 

not o 
uch an 
v i dual 



urse , 
ot di 

But 
then 

of 
I 
at Go 

them 
h wi 
f our 
envir 
freed 



writ i 
rec tly 
if his 
it is 
God's 
t is 
d will 
. All 
11 re 

own m 
onmen t 
om wit 



ng a 

, wi 

ana 

even 

inf 

not 

say 

tha 

spec 

akin 

H 

hi n 



s a 
th t 
lysi 

mor 
luen 

pos 

to 
t ca 
t an 

g- 

e wa 
the 



sociol 
he rel 
s is c 
e so w 
ce in 
sibl e 
this o 
n be d 
d f aci 
Domini 
s care 
f r ame w 



ogi s t . 
igious 

orrect 
hen we 
human 
to say 
r that 
one is 
litate 
c knew 
f u 1 to 
o r k of 



44 



necessary to ensure the survival of the 



the relationships 
group . 

We are often tempted to think and behave otherwise. It is 
all too easy to think that we have fully grasped what we like 
to call the "Dominican Ideal" and that we must hold on to it 
tightly and make sure that others understand it as we do. But 
that is to attempt to create something in our own image rather 
than respect the image which God is gently and slowly bringing 
to fruition in each of his creatures. This is the danger, 
that, through excessive zeal or perhaps through fear of losing 
something precious, we might distort if not destroy that which 
we claim to cherish. Here again we might listen attentively to 
the words of Raymond Williams. 



It 

det e 

our 

the 

i n 

brea 

capa 

rest 

inde 

some 

imag 

and 

subs 

to 

tryi 



is 

rmin 
own 
mer 

the 

k 

citi 

rict 

ed , 
or 

es 
o 

tant 

prol 

ng t 



as 
ed 



if, 
to 
image 
its of 

mind , 
down : 
es of 
the c 
that 
dinance 
into t 
thers 
iation . 
ong ol 
o presc 



in 

lay o 

, an 

riv 

whic 

a 

life 
hanne 
the 

in 
he f 
to 
We 
d fo 
ribe 



fear 
ur hand 
d it is 
al imag 
h at t 
refusal 
; a d 
Is of g 
future 
our own 
uture, 
fore 
do th 
rms ; w 
the new 



or vi 
s on 1 

then 
es . T 
imes i 

to 
etermi 
rowth ; 
has no 

minds 

and t 
e en 
is as 
e do 

man . 



sion 

ife 

no g 

his 

t se 

acce 

nati 

a h 
w to 
. W 
ake 
ergy 
cons 

thi 



, w 

and 

ood 

is a 

ems 

pt 

on 

abit 

be 
e pr 
hold 
t 
erva 
s a 



e are 
force 
to di 

real 
impos 
the 
to 1 

of t 
deter 
o j e c t 

of o 
oward 
t i ves 
s soc 



now 

it 
sput 

bar 
sibl 
crea 
imi t 
hink 
mine 

our 
urse 
s 

, tr 
iali 



all 
into 
e on 
rier 
e to 
tive 

and 
ing, 
d by 

old 
Ives 
that 
ying 
sts , 



(ibid., p. 321.) 

Because the system and structure of government in the 
Dominican Family are a cherished part of our 
heritage, combining a deep respect for the individual 



person with 
responsibility 
the exercise 
to continue 
Constitutions 
an organic 



a corresponding vision of shared 
for the building up of community and 

of authority, we encourage our sisters 
their efforts to implement their 

which faithfully reflect this vision of 
and ordered participation of all in 



striving to 
l.V; 7; 181) 



achieve the aims of the Order. (cf. LCM 



(Acts of General Chapter of Oakland, no. 157.) 



Unity and Diversity 

Herein lies the genius of Dominic. He was able to create 
a system which would both confirm and respect the gifts, the 
talents, the graces of each and also confirm and strengthen the 
community which is even larger than the individual gifts. 



45 



What is even more obvious from my having lived the 
life is Dominic's intent that the unique talents of 
each individual should not be stifled but rather 
enhanced and the potential brought to its fullest 
actualization. I view us as 'a unity in and through 
diversity.' We are very diverse people but the 
uniqueness is brought together in a life of charity 
in communi t y . 

(David M. Hynous, O.P., Canonical Visitation, 1984.) 

It is a system which is able to support and encourage 
diversity without creating separation. But it is not a simple 
system. It is a complex organization requiring constant 
attention, reevaluation and adjustment. But this is a sign of 
true democracy, true freedom. 

I wonder whether there is not also a connection 
between true democracy, true freedom, and the 
impermanence of the models we revere. . . . It is 
as though democracy can only thrive on the sharing -- 
and then perhaps on the shearing — of illusion, and 
can flourish only on the ruins of permanence. 
A genuinely democratic culture, however, like the 
carefully balanced life of an individual human being, 
is a fragile thing, the more valuable for the built- 
in impermanence of everything it embodies. 



(Jacques Darras, Beyond 
(Macmillan, 1990), p. 15.) 



the Tunnel of History 



The system of government, of living together, which 
Dominic has bequeathed to his family is a texture which is 
loosely woven, leaving big enough gaps through which our own 
life can send its threads and designs. And we must be careful 
to leave it so. Sometimes, in the name of a false unity, we 
tend to tighten and tidy up that flexibility which is part of 
our heritage . 



The 

form 

trou 

Idea 

af ra 

It 

its 

this 

enjo 

mise 

touc 

free 

in 



tend 
hab 
ble 
Is o 
id t 
tries 

belo 
is 
yment 
rline 
h wi 
dom 
the 



ency 
its 
of 
nee 
o r 
to 
ngin 
rea 
o 
ss . 
th t 
is n 
high 



of 

and 

thin 

for 

isk 

en 
gs 
lly 
f 

Th 
he g 
o t w 
-roa 



th 
mo 

king 

med 

its 

joy 

behi 
shu 
one ' 
e 1 
rowi 
ithi 
d o 



e mi 

ve 
an 

mak 
acqu 

com 
nd f 
1 1 in 
s 

i v i n 
ng a 
n th 
f a 



nd i 

i n 
ew 

e t 
isi t 
plet 
ort i 
g on 
own 

g i 
nd c 
e bo 
d ven 



s eco 
groov 
at e 
he mi 
ions 
e sec 
f icat 
esel f 
pos 
deals 
hangi 
undar 
ture , 



nomic 
es wh 

ach 
nd la 
in f r 
uri t y 
ions 

up f 
sessi 

must 
ng 1 i 
i es o 

full 



al, 

ich 
of 

zy • 
esh 

by 
of h 
rom 
ons . 

not 
fe. 
f se 

of 



it 1 
save 
its 
It 
ende 
shut 
abit 
the 

los 

The 

curi 

the 



oves to 
it the 
s t eps . 
becomes 
avours . 
ting up 
s. But 
fullest 
It is 
e their 
i r real 
t y , but 
risk of 



46 



new experiences. 

( Rabindranath Tagore, Nat ional ism (Macmillan India 
Limited ) , p . 31 . ) 

The Dominican way of living together requires much 
patience and perseverance, and the involvement of all in a 
common seeking and sharing. It is a way of life which seeks to 
elicit the best from each but which is simultaneously gentle 
with the shortcomings of each. And perhaps the latter is more 
important than the former. 

It is the imperfections, the roughage, the 
accommodation of inconsistency and of the eccentric, 
of the grand and the petty, the precise and the 
asymmetrical that is the touchstone of the mature 
political culture that we have developed. 

(Darras, Beyond the Tunnel of History , p. 14.) 

Amos Oz makes the same point in his book, The Slopes of 
Lebanon . 



One 

queru 

the 

compe 

overt 

rich 

not 

inher 

atrop 

fence 

commo 

creat 

value 

throu 

betwe 

us a 

must 

remem 

divid 

value 



could 
lous 

pano 
ti ti ve 

riva 
textu 
only 
ent i 
hy 
s» 
n 

ive 
s, 
gh 
en 



be 
fo 
de 

f 
as 

a 
di 



ccept 

be e 
ber t 
ed so 
s and 



fil 
Zion 
ply 
ness 
lry 
re 

char 
n i 
caus 
r th 
nomi 
ield 

a 
n 
ffer 

plu 
limi 
here 
ciet 
prio 



1 v 
ist 

of 
, t 
betw 
of 

acte 
ts v 
e of 
e sa 
nato 

of 
sha 
inte 
ing 
rali 
nate 

ar 
y m 
riti 



olume 

f ami 
lo 
he us 
een i 
contr 
rizes 
ery f 

a su 
ke of 
r . 

tens 
rp st 
llect 

visi 
sm n 
d, b 
e mo 
ust 
es . 



s wit 
ly and 
ve-hat 
e of c 
ts var 
asts , 

cont 
ounda t 
perf ic 
unif i 
Or it 
ion be 
imulus 
ual 
ons . 
ot as 
ut as 
ments 
make 



h d 

its 
e 

over 
ious 

com 
empo 
ion . 
ial 
cat i 
ma 
twee 

for 
and 
This 
a tr 

a b 

of 
a c 



escn 
tren 
relat 
t inf 
comp 
plex 
rary 
It 
desir 
on ar 

y ye 

n var 
cult 
emot 
will 

ansie 

lessi 
trut 

lear- 



ptio 
ds a 
ions 
luen 
onen 
and 
Isra 
may, 
e to 
ound 
t s 
ious 
ural 
iona 
com 
nt i 
ng, 
h w 
cut 



ns 

nd n 

hips 

ce , 

ts. 

comp 

el, 
of 
■lo 
som 

erve 
sys 
ere 

1 s 

e if 

line 

and 

hen 

deci 



of the 
uances , 
, the 
and the 

Thus a 
elling , 
but was 
course , 
wer the 
e trite 
as a 
terns of 
ativity 
truggle 

all of 
ss that 
that we 

even a 
sion on 



(Amos Oz, The Slopes of Lebanon (Vintage, London, 
1991), p. 73.) 

We, too, accept pluralism as a blessing which enriches our 
common heritage. For us it is not divisive because the 
framework which Dominic gave to his family provided explicitly 
for such diversity. He did not wish the richness which comes 
from God to be suffocated by our human smallness. There is no 
human model, no human framework, which can adequately 
accommodate the presence of God. Hence the need to be forever 
reevaluating and pondering upon the way we live our lives. 



47 



This might seem precarious and adventurous. So be it 
served the Order well over the centuries. 



It has 



We are pilgrims with no fixed abode and for us "the making 
of a community is always an exploration" ... "a community 
of those who seek the truth . . . " 

The real community of man, in the midst of all the 
self -contradictory simulacra of community, is the 
community of those who seek the truth, of the 
potential knowers, that is, in principle, of all men 
to the extent they desire to know. But in fact this 
includes only a few, the true friends, as Plato was 
to Aristotle at the very moment they were disagreeing 
about the nature of good. Their common concern for 
the good linked them; their disagreement about it 
proved they needed one another to understand it. 

(Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (Simon 
and Shuster, New York, 1987) , p. 381. ) 



Freedom and Responsibility 



as 

t hos 

spac 

comm 

each 

whic 

comm 

shar 

have 

char 

dign 

to 

of 

the 



As 
a w 
e w 
e 
unic 

th 
h, 

unit 
ing 

a 
acte 
ity. 
deny 
stre 
sake 



Do 

ay 

ho 

for 

ate 

at 

if 

y a 

is 
lway 
rize 
F 

the 
ss 

of 



mini 
to 

diff 
ot 

the 
lies 
not 
nd 

den 
s 
s 

reed 
m th 
or 
expe 



cans 
buil 
er 

hers 
ir 
th 
sha 
a d 
ied. 
resp 
the 
om 
eir 
cris 
dien 



we h 
ding c 
from u 

to 
unique 
e pre 
red, 
iminis 

It 
ected 

huma 
is ou 
vocat i 
is to 
cy or 



ave 
ommu 
s as 

be 
ness 
ciou 
is b 
hmen 

is 
th 
n p 
r bi 
on . 

sac 
effi 



neve 
ni ty 
a t 
the 
. F 
snes 
oth 
t o 
a pr 
at 

erso 
rt hr 
Nor 
rif i 
cien 



r so 

. N 
hrea 
msel 
or i 
s w 
an i 
f t 
ecio 

fun 
n a 
ight 

sho 
ce o 
cy. 



ught a 
or hav 
t. We 
ves a 
t is i 
hich 
mpover 
he in 
us par 
dament 
nd wh 
. To 
uld we 
r curt 



contr 
e we e 

have 
nd th 
n the 
is to 
ishmen 
di vidu 
t of o 
al 1 
ich g 
deny i 

be te 
ail th 



i ved 
ver 
al wa 
e f 
lone 

be 
t of 
al t 
ur h 
iber 
ives 
t to 
mp te 
is f 



con 
cons 
ys a 
reed 
1 y m 
shar 

the 
o wh 
erit 

ty 

hi 

oth 

d in 

reed 



sensus 
idered 
1 lowed 
om to 
i nd of 
ed and 

whole 
om the 
age to 

whi ch 
m his 
ers is 

times 
om for 



But let me read to you part of a pamphlet written many 
years ago by Vincent McNabb. 



Where 

conce 

freed 

other 

and 

divis 

sight 

organ 

princ 

e leme 

found 

cohes 



upon 
rning 
om . 

Orde 
withal 
ions 
, and 
izat io 
ipl es 
nt of 
any 
ion : 



I entered a long alleyway of thought 

the Friar Preachers' birthright of 

So wide is this reign of freedom that no 

r in the Church may be compared with it; 

so subtle that it reaches to the fine 

between soul and spirit. Indeed, at first 

perhaps at second and third sight, the 

n of the Order is so interwoven with 

of freedom that it seems to hold every 

destruction. Scarcely is there to be 

mathematical or mechanical force of 

everywhere the elements of the Order seem 



48 



loosely articulate with that most unaccountable 
factor, the human freewill; and that most unruly 
exercise of the human freewill, the free and secret 
ballot. By ten thousand psychological laws, the 
Order founded by Dominic Guzman, the friend and the 
Father of Parliaments, ought to be dead or at least 
divided. But it is alive and one. 



Lat er 
birthright . 



on 



he warns of the temptation to tamper with our 



No a 

from 

time 

to t 

not 

birth 

indiv 

only 

schem 

by a 

begin 

as t 

arran 

admin 



mount 
loya 
ther 
heir 
over- 
right 
idual 

too 
es . 
buses 

to 
he a 
gemen 
istra 



of f 
lty 
e ar 

envi 
wise 

of 
ity 

much 

But 
in 

live 
ppoin 
t of 
tion . 



reed 

to o 

ise 

ronm 

peo 

f 

run 

to 

abu 

rec 

, bu 

tmen 

ou 



om f 
ur u 
in t 
en t , 
pie, 
reed 
mad 
le 
ses 
onst 
t wi 
ts 
r e 



oile 
niqu 
he 

a 

wh 
om , 

nd 

in a 
ruct 
11 b 
of 
xecu 



d or 
e pr 
rder 
num 
o r 
an 
Not 
colo 
dmin 
ion . 
egin 
all 
ti ve 



spo 
of es 
, as 
ber 
epen 
d 

unf 

ur t 

istr 

T 

to 

sup 
on 



iled 
sion 
a k 
of o 
t o 
look 
requ 
o th 
atio 
he 
die 
erio 
li 



sho 
. F 
ind 
ver- 
f t 
u 
entl 
eir 
n ar 
Orde 
by s 
rs , 
nes 



uld 

rom 

of r 

zeal 

he 

pon 

y t 

phra 
e no 
r w 
uch 

or 

of 



wean us 
time to 
eact ion 
ous and 
Order ' s 
it as 
here is 
ses and 
t cured 
ill not 
schemes 
the re- 
central 



(Vincent McNabb, O.P., The Gyves of Freedom 
(Blackf riars , Hawkseyard), p. 6-8.) 

Today, perhaps, we need to be on our guard against a more 
subtle and insidious attack on freedom, one which is all the 
more dangerous and destructive because very often it is hidden 
and practiced unwittingly. Those who are called to join the 
Family of Dominic depend on those who are already members for 
much of their formation. They are in a position of dependency 
and can be easily manipulated. But such manipulation, if 
practiced, is altogether foreign to the spirit of Dominic. 



No o 

than 

consc 

manip 

becau 

other 

is n 

him/h 

f requ 

educa 

roote 

for 

reali 

in t 

Fear 



ppre 
tha 
ienc 
ulat 
se 

ma 
o g 
er 

entl 
tion 
d i 
othe 
sm . 
he 
and 



ssio 

t w 

e o 

ion 

thro 

nipu 

reat 

to 
y d 

fo 
n th 
rs, 

Bu 
vigo 
the 



n l 
hich 
f t 
tha 
ugh 
lati 
er 

f 
estr 
r f 
e go 
and 
t t 
ur a 
lack 



s m 

do 

he h 

n t 

it 
ons 
serv 
reed 
oys 
reed 
od w 
it c 
his 
nd f 

of 



ore 

mina 

uman 

he 

one 

of 
ice 
om . 

fai 
om . 
ill 
an b 

mak 
orce 
fait 



powe 
tes 

per 
mani 
can 

the 

to 
F 
th 

Th 
of t 
e le 
es i 

of 
h al 



rful 
the 
son . 
pula 
obta 
hum 
a p 
ear 
in f 
e f 
hose 
gi ti 
t no 
the 
ways 



and 

re 

Th 

tion 

in a 

an p 

erso 

of 

reed 

ear 

who 
mi ze 

les 
Chri 

go 



mor 
ligi 
ere 

of 
nd 1 
erso 
n th 
1 
om a 
of f 

fee 
d by 
s a 
st ia 
hand 



e de 
ous 
is n 

CO 

egi t 
n . 

an t 
icen 
nd e 
reed 
1 re 

an 
lack 
n ex 

in 



struc 
and m 
o gre 
nscie 
imize 
And t 
o edu 
tious 
limin 
om ca 
spons 
appea 
of f 
perie 
hand . 



ti ve 
oral 
ater 
nee , 
all 
here 
cate 
ness 
ates 
n be 
ible 
1 to 
ai th 
nee . 



4 9 



( Felicisimo 
L iberacion y 
p. 23-24.) 



Martinez 
de Vida 



Diez, O.P. , 
( Dec 1 e Brower , 



Caminos 



de 



lilbao, 1989), 



... the task of forming consciences demands a 
superhuman responsibility, and the attempt to 
manipulate them is a sin without par. 

(ibid. , p. 15. ) 

Dominic had a profound respect for his early companions 
and profound respect, too, for the work of the Spirit in their 
lives. In his dealings with them there is no taint of 
manipulation, no attempt to bend them to his will. 



Vision Rather Than Coercion 



bret 

that 

bein 

the 

ever 

cons 

cont 

diff 

rath 

help 

is 

me q 



If 
hren 

th 
g r 
con 
yone 
true 
ribu 
eren 
er 
ful 
from 
uote 



Do 

, a 
eir 
uled 
trib 
b 
tion 
tion 
t f 
"one 

and 
Jo 

fur 



mini 
nd t 
way 
by 
ut io 
ecom 
i a 

rom 

wh 

mor 

hn M 

ther 



c di 
his i 
of 
die 
n of 
es 

nd i 
This , 
"one 
ere 
e rea 
ahone 



d n 

s re 

lif 

tate 

ea 



a b 
s e 
of 
wh 
a de 
list 
y ' s 



ot 

flee 

e e 

, t 

eh 

uild 

ncou 

CO 

ere 
stin 
ic f 
The 



seek t 
ted in 
merged 
his mea 
to the 
er , mu 
raged t 
urse , 
a detai 
ation a 
or indi 
Making 



o 1 
the 
from 
ns t 
comm 
st 

o of 
impl 
led 
nd a 
vidu 
of M 



mpos 
way 

a c 
hat 
on c 
shar 
f er 
ies 
map 

com 
als , 
oral 



e his 

he org 

onsens 

he gre 

ause . 

e in 

his/he 

a vi 

is pro 

pass w 
it 

Theol 



wi 
aniz 
us r 
atly 

In 

the 
r ow 
ew o 
vide 
ill 

The 
ogy. 



11 

ed t 
athe 

res 
his 

ta 
n pe 
f mo 
d"| 
prov 

quo 



on his 
hem so 
r than 
pect ed 
family 
sk of 
rsonal 
rali t y 
it is 
e more 
t at i on 
ut let 



Once 

good 

perc 

view 

valu 

trad 

mora 

theo 

mora 

pres 

the 

orga 

succ 

and 

view 

cour 

him 

tree 

part 

mora 

reso 



one 

fai 

eptio 

of 
e . 

i tion 
1 t 
logia 
lity 
entin 

mora 
nic 
essiv 

the 
the 
se t 

more 
-, an 
icula 
1 li 
urces 



sy 
th 
ns 

mor 
An a 

each 
ns 
fr 

9 i 
1 de 

than 

e i 

Ian 

mo 
owar 

in 

d , w 

r o 

fe 

o 



stem 

and 

of 

alit 

Iter 

par 
ing 

has 
om 

t t 
velo 
me 
n i 
guag 
ral 
ds t 
te 
hat 
ak 

proc 
r i 



at ic 

eve 

real 

y i 

nati 

ticu 

of 

fo 
wit 
o h 
pmen 
chan 
ts a 
e o 
age 
he c 
rms 
ism 
tree 
eeds 
n m 



ally 
n m 
ity 
s s 
ve v 
larl 
th 
und 
hin 
im f 
t of 
ical 
ppro 
f s 
nt 1 
ente 

of 
ore , 

by 
ore 



al 
ore 

by 
een 
iew 
y of 
e C 

les 
th 
rom 

the 

, a 
ach , 
elf- 
ike 

r of 

an 

of 
For 

a 
Ari 



lows 

for 
indi 

as 
whic 

Aqu 
hurc 
s c 
e 
outs 

ind 
nd 

exp 
real 
an a 

the 
acor 
this 

thi 

cap 
stot 



, t 

a 
vidu 
bein 
h ex 
inas 
h o 
onge 
sub j 
ide . 
ivid 
more 
loit 
izat 
rrow 

tar 
n gr 

aco 
s w 
ital 
ilia 



hen , 

vari 
als , 
g of 
ists 

-- b 
r of 
nial , 
ect 

It 
ual w 
cum 
ing n 
ion . 

in f 
get, 
owing 
rn gr 
ay of 
i z i ng 
n t e 



for 
ety 
the 
only 
in t 
ut w 
su 
ap 
rath 
is a 
hich 
ulat 
ow t 

Rat 
ligh 
it c 

int 
owi n 

vie 

of 
rms , 



erro 
of m 
road 

lim 
he m 
hich 
bseq 
proa 
er 

vie 

is 
i ve 
he t 
her 
t an 
onsi 
o an 
g in 
wing 
pers 
by 



r in 
oral 
-map 
ited 
oral 

the 
uent 
ches 
than 
w of 
more 
than 
heme 
than 
d on 
ders 

oak 
to a 

the 
ona 1 

the 



50 



fulfilment of one's human potentialities 
happiness, or Aquinas's beatitude. 



towards 



( John Mahoney , 5.3. 
Study of the Roman 



The Making of Moral Theology, A 
Catholic Tradition (Clarendon 



Press), p. 220.) 

We have inherited the mechanism, the framework, by which 
the project of Dominic can be lived and realized today. 
Perhaps what we need is to recover the vision which gave life 
to that project at the beginning. Or perhaps what we need is 
the conviction that the practical realization of such a vision 
is possible. 

I suggest that the only way of reclaiming the Dominican 

vision for our times, and recovering, too, the conviction that 

the living of that vision is possible, is by living according 

to the system of government which has been bequeathed to us. 



51 
"Prayer, Study, and the Life of Withdrawal" 
William Columban Barron, O.P. 

I have been asked in this paper to address the topic of 
study and the Dominican life of withdrawal. To do this well it 
is first necessary to answer the question, what is the world from 
which the nun withdraws? The necessity of answering this 
question is obvious because it touches upon the nun's vocation to 
participate in her Lord's mission to save the world. What is 
there about the world that needs salvation, specifically a 
salvation which will benefit it by the nun's withdrawal? 

Confronted with the task of defining the world, I feel much 
like the cosmologist who began her lecture by saying, "The topic 
of today's talk is everything." Nevertheless, let me begin by 
stating that "world" has many possible definitions. I have 
decided to provide here the critical understanding of "world" 
theorized by the western Marxists of the Frankfurt School. I do 
this because they do not share with us a Christian perspective. 
Their definition of world cannot be said of itself to further 
Christian interests. In addition to this, Herbert Marcuse, one 
of the Frankfurt theorists to whom I will refer momentarily, 
offers a compelling, and, I believe, an accurate, picture of an 
unjust human situation in which world is essentially a deception 
parading as reality. Since it is from this world that people 
take their self-understanding, and further, since it is under its 
categories that they must live out their lives, the unmasking of 
the deception is paramount. However, there can be no unmasking 
and no commencement of authentic human existence because, by this 
theory I am employing, the mechanisms which construct the world 
as real always succeed in re- incorporat ing any oppositional 



52 

elements seeking to reveal and concretely overthrow its 
eviscerating deceptions. 

However, it is not just the world that is deceptive. The 
individual as personally defined within the world's semantics is 
also illusory. Leo Lowethal's analysis of the incorporation of 
the individual into a cultural personality through the format of 
literary biography will serve as one example -- there are many — 
of how the individual cannot escape the world any more than human 
society can escape it. 

If no one can escape the world, how then does the nun do 
it? And in doing it, how does she in turn unmask the world's 
debilitating falsehoods? When we answer these questions, we will 
then be able to locate the practice of individual study in the 
communal life and salvific witness of the Dominican nun. 



In Matthew 5:38, Jesus commands the disciples to offer no 
resistance to the evildoer. Few other admonitions of the Lord so 
clearly indicate his desire that both the Christian individual 
and the Christian community be practical countersigns to human 
society in the world. This precept, so enigmamatic at first 
hearing, opposes the fundamental mechanism whereby the world 
alters those who contravene its ruling trends. Since the advent 
of market capitalism, whose product is the modern world, the 
rupture in social relations which it entails has been the 
constant concern of the dominant social groupings which both 



53 

determine and benefit from control of the means and relations of 
production. Society's cultural formations function at the 
service of the dominant political and economic class which needs 
to produce images of itself for consumption by those who are 
antagonized by its power, values, and interests. Culture 
supplies the illusion of a real world which veils the gap between 
the self-interests of the dominant class and those whose real 
social relations are dissembled by it. Within culture a realm of 
apparent unity and freedom is created where the beneficiary class 
establishes the hegemony of its own values and in which the 
oppositional relations of the real world of social and economic 
relations appear to be stabilized and pacified (Marcuse, p. 96). 
In this way, the culture of advanced capitalism always affirms 
and conceals the permanent inequalities and injustices of 
concrete social life (Marcuse, P. 96). 

With respect to the individual, contemporary culture 
enshrouds this entity with its own notions of personality, and 
establishes it as the bearer of culture. This personality is a 
beautiful image which, because it is specifically the ideational 
similitude of the individual, is well suited for consoling and 
confirming the isolated concrete man or woman (Marcuse, p. 122). 

Although the historical moment is veiled by the culture of 
the dominant class, nonetheless, individual experience on the 
level of concrete life belies its ideal happiness: "...The 
universality of this happiness is immediately canceled, since the 
abstract equity of men realizes itself in capitalist production 
as concrete inequality" (Marcuse, p. 97). The cultural 



54 

obfuscation of social experience wears thin and the gap between 
illusion and experience begins to become transparent. Once this 
gap appears, the need arises to re-veil it by the mechanisms of 
culture. In our own country, beginning earlier in this century, 
one of the ways of accomplishing this has been by the literature 
of fact, of which the biography is a primary example. 

Like the novel and short story, the biography aesthet icizes 
the cultural personality but in a way that brings the realm of 
culture close to the everyday experience of political, economic, 
and social relations thereby closing the gap once again. The 
literature of fact reaches directly into the material sphere to 
lay hold of living exemplars of the hegemonic culture. Early in 
the century, when the gap was once more showing itself, 
biographers introduced the "idols of production" into literature 
emphasizing not their unique traits but their real individual 
powers, standardizing them according to the current national 
scene (Lowenthal, p. 113). These biographic heroes 
(industrialists, politicians, professionals, businessmen, 
religious leaders) could be pointed to in extra-literary life as 
active members of society engaged in the determining events of 
history. The illusory deceptiveness of their literary lives was 
achieved by an emphasis on the individuality of their talent and 
drive. However, their seeming "individuality" was nothing other 
than a personality constructed by the culture which held out to 
the reader the promise of happiness in an aestheticized formula 
for success. These heroes were mere symbols, not real people. 
The reader, educated by the biography format, was encouraged to 



55 

imitate these ideological symbols of the dominant class by 
thinking that these heroes were not different than 
himself /herself . If the older literary forms of the novel and 
short story delivered happiness through escape, these biographies 
of the idols of production presented it as attainable through 
imitation . 

At sometime in the 1920 's, the biographies of the idols of 
production became biographies of the idols of consumption. The 
new heroes were almost exclusively popular entertainers and 
sports figures (Lowenthal, p. 114-15). The social relations of 
this next generation of heroes are represented as totally 
privatized. They are static beings to whom things happen -- 
things that make them successful -- without their having to act 
to realize them. They have had the "breaks" that others have not 
had and so cannot be said to be responsible for their own 
success. The heroes of sports and entertainment are segmented 
individuals and their historicity is represented only by a series 
of facts not actions. Lacking integration into the processes of 
history, their only activity is a passivity: they consume. 

This next generation of biographers selected these 
individuals out of real experience based specifically upon the 
criterion of consumption: what they eat, what they wear, what 
they smoke, what they drive, etc. (Lowenthal, p. 118). These 
biographies aestheticize the ideological personality as having 
already achieved happiness in commodity consumption. Moreover, 
although their lives are configured as symbols of the consumers 
who read about them, in real life they are themselves semantic 



56 

products of the entertainment and sports industries. The heroes 
of the older biographies could be pointed to in concrete life as 
efficient causes of the very economic and cultural hegemonies 
they exemplified. Entertainers and ballplayers are exemplars of 
industrial products. In the world of concrete experience they 
simply signify how far into the personality the commodif ication 
process has extended itself. 

These symbolic personalities -- symbols even in the concrete 
world of experience — are already agglomerations of various 
commodity relations. When made the subjects of popular 
biographies, the pure character of the commodity culture which 
they represent is brought before the reader as image of 
himself /herself . In consuming that illusion, the reader 
dissipates as an individual and recovers his/her personality only 
through identification with the market forces which have already 
determined him or her. The new personality is an instance of the 
standardized mass, and that which was (would have been) 
antagonistic is absorbed into the illusion of consumptive 
normalcy. 

The imaged world which an unjustified society produces 
through the values and needs of its leading class effectively 
resists those evildoers who would otherwise seek to restructure 
the social relations under which they labor. By the historical 
illusions of world and personality, the dominant class mystifies 
itself and anesthetizes those other social classes, and the 
individuals who compose them, against radical changes in the 
concrete human condition. Even violent revolution, whether 



57 

arising from marginalized social groups, or inspired by the 
consciousness raising of an historical vanguard, has proven quite 
recently to be incapable of justifying the seemingly irredeemable 
facts and trajectory of human social life. The world created by 
Marxist parties simply employs different cultural mechanisms to 
veil the gap between a dominant class and those alienated by its 
particular interests. The personality of the individual was no 
less a standardized instance of the ideological mass in the 
Communist world than it is in the capitalist. 

Conditioned as we are by the cultural programmat ics of the 
American scene to view the "free" world as radically different 
from the Communist — or from all others, for that matter -- we 
tend to recoil at the suggestion that essentially all "worlds" 
are the same. Simply defined, the world is always society's 
image of itself. As I have indicated, the unjustified, 
unregenerate nature of all human societies necessitates that the 
world which societies produce and concretize by historical action 
will always be illusory. Jesus banishes illusion by the 
revelation of a new approach. Jesus did not resist the 
evildoer. Instead, he loved those who abused him and those whom 
the world abuses. By this single fact, he offered the perfect 
counterpoise to the intrinsic false consciousness of the world. 
He brought the Father's rain to fall on the just and the unjust; 
upon those who foster human alienation and upon those whose 
alienation is left unreconciled by cultural concealment. Seen 
from the world of Christ, all people are equally malefactors and 
their worlds equally unjust. But he came not to condemn them but 



58 

to save them/ not to resist them but to invite them in love. He 
did this because human society is caught up in something that is 
very much like a vicious circle. 

Society is constituted by the concrete actions of its 
individual members. But society also produces the world as image 
of itself and continually constitutes itself historically by that 
self-image. The world includes the individual as person. What 
we are and the way in which we interrelate and act --all this is 
already contained in what the world as image conditions us to 
be. We, as constituents of society, make ourselves to be what we 
are. This is our historical definition, our actual concrete 
nature. We keep producing worlds out of the worlds we have 
produced yet our worlds are illusions, untruths about ourselves 
and injustices which we cannot remedy. No world is adequate to 
the vocation of society, namely, human happiness. We need a new 
world in which to be new persons, happy in a just society. 
However, we can escape neither the world we make nor our 
responsibility for its radical disorder. But "if anyone is in 
Christ, he or she is a new creation. The old order has passed 
away; now all is new! All this has been done by God who has 
reconciled us to himself through Christ... I mean that God, in 
Christ, was reconciling the world to himself, not counting men's 
transgressions against them... God made Christ who did not know 
sin, to be sin, so that in him we might become the very holiness 
of God" (2Cor. 5: 17-21 ) . 

Jesus is the image of the Father, the Logos through whom the 
world was made as human image of God. It is likewise through 



3 9 

Jesus, the only true image of God, that we as individuals are 
claimed as persons out of our illusive world, the historical 
world of our making, and reconstituted as persons in the person 
of God, Jesus Christ ("Father, they do not belong to the world 
any more than I belong to the world ... consecrate them by means of 
truth..." Jn 17:14,17). In Jesus, the perichoretic society of 
God enters the world; and through those reborn in his person, a 
new world finally appears. It is this true image shared by the 
followers of Christ that actively stands against the image human 
society has made of itself. The world hates this new image of 
redeemed humanity because love is alien to its scheme ("The 
reason the world hates you is that you do not .belong to the 
world. But I have chosen you out of the world." Jn 15:19). The 
world tries to bring Christ's image under its illusions but 
cannot. This demonstrates to those who share Jesus' image that 
they are protected by his prayer ("For these I pray — not for the 
world but for these you have given me for they are really yours." 
Jn 17:9); and that they love with his love, a disposition not of 
this world's making ("If you belonged to the world it would love 
you as its own." Jn 15:19). For his followers, Christ's refusal 
to resist the evildoer entails a suffering love ("They will harry 
you as they harried me." Jn 15:20. "You will weep and mourn 
while the world rejoices. You will grieve for a time..." Jn 
16:20). Jesus' new world of redeeming love, however, will not 
be defeated by this world's opposition ("You will suffer in the 
world. But take courage! I have overcome the world." Jn 16:33). 



60 

Note, however, the world's opposition is both active and 
passive. In taking what was created as the human image of God 
and rendering it into an exclusively human image, human society 
is only capable of recognizing itself in its various historical 
worlds and can no longer recognize its true image which comes 
through Christ ("He was in the world, and through him the world 
was made, yet the world did not know who he was." Jn 1:10). 
Those who are reconstituted in the world as its redemptive 
counterpoise, the image of the new humanity, are (and should be) 
unrecognizable to the world: they are in the world as Jesus was 
("As you have sent me into the world so I have sent them into the 
world." Jn 17:18). The world will recognize only what is its 
own. Thus the community of those freed by Christ from slavery to 
the world's illusive self-image will be recognized only through 
belief, that is, when the world comes to believe that Jesus has 
been sent by the Father. The world is brought to this belief by 
observing the unity of the community of those regenerated in 
Christ ("I pray that they may be one in us, that the world may 
believe that you sent me." Jn 17:21). This unity is the image 
of what is generated in Christ's followers by the perichoresis of 
God ("As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Live on 
in my love. You will live in my love if you keep my 
commandments... My command is this: love one another as I have 
loved you." Jn 15:9, 12). 

Because it loves in all instances and for no worldly reason, 
the community of Jesus cannot be construed as oppositional by the 
world's programmat ics . Moreover, the love-f or-one-another which 



61 

constitutes the new humanity forestalls the dissembling illusions 
of the world. By so doing, it models for humanity that unity of 
the Trinity which is the world's only hope for ending the vicious 
cycle of its own concrete untruth (Kasper, p. 284). 
Finally, because in God substance and relation are really 
identical, as Walter Kasper reminds us, unity and independence 
are greater than in the created world: God is absolutely 
undivided unity and so must also be infinite differentiation 
(Kasper, p. 283). The personal freedom of those who are 
regenerated in Christ is absolute --a freedom which the world 
cannot give. In Kasper's words, "The unity with God that is 
established by Jesus Christ neither absorbs nor dissolves the 
human person (as do the economic and socio-cultural mechanisms 
which incorporate the individual as an element of the world); it 
means, rather, an abiding distinction and thus is the basis for 
authentic independence and freedom. In Christianity the 
mysticism of unity between God and man and between man and Christ 
is a mysticism of encounter, friendship and communion with God; 
it is realized in and through human encounter, friendship and 
communion, and in turn radiates outward into human friendship and 
communion and attains its full stature in these" (Kasper, pp. 284- 
85). Christ's command that we love one another as he has loved 
us makes the unity of God manifest at the same time that it 
recreates the individual person in freedom making him or her 
independent of the image of the world and its conditioning. 



62 



The Dominican nun withdraws from the world by a special call 
of God in order to live freely the life of Christ in a community 
of free women whose unity and mutual love calls the world to its 
vocation to believe in the one whom the Father has sent. It is a 
redemptive vocation ■ — for the individual/ the community, and the 
world. The nuns realize this vocation by hearing Christ's voice 
in its purity in silence, by celebrating his word in the liturgy, 
by meeting him in sacred scripture, and by receiving him in his 
body and blood. They become one living sign of the saving Word 
himself, preserving in their very persons the image that shares 
and saves, begins and consummates human history ("Called by God, 
like Mary, to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to his words, 
they are converted to the Lord, withdrawing from the empty 
preoccupations and illusions of the world." LCM 1. III.). Or, in 
the words of Dostoyevsky, "They are in truth made ready in peace 
and quiet 'for the day and the hour, the month and the year'. 
Meanwhile, in their solitude, they keep the image of Christ fair 
and undefiled, in the purity of God's truth, from the times of 
the Fathers of old, the Apostles and the martyrs. And when the 
time comes they will show it to the tottering creeds of the 
world" ( The Brothers Karamazov ). 

"The nuns of the Order of Preachers came into being when our 
holy Father Dominic gathered women converts to the Catholic faith 
in the monastery of Blessed Mary of Prouille" (LCM 1. I.). These 
women he withdrew from the world so that he always had a clear 



63 

and concrete example for his hearers of that which he preached. 
Moreover, knowing that faith seeks understanding, but that 
understanding relies upon the meanings generated by the world, 
Dominic recognized how easily the understanding of the faith 
could be penetrated and confused by the world. He made it the 
mission of the Friars Preachers to reclaim for the mind the 
possibility of understanding what it believes without confusion 
or admixture of error. This vocation necessitates being where 
the meanings, alienations, and illusions of the world are: in the 
world of human making. The friar was to experience and live, to 
a certain extent, the world's meanings, alienations, and 
illusions. To preach the Truth, one must take upon oneself the 
image of the world as the Truth himself did when he came among 
us. This is a dangerous, perilous vocation because the world 
claims as its own all who walk its labyrinths. However, as Jesus 
never left the society of the Trinitarian unity and love, the 
friar never is without the real, concrete model of that 
perichoretic love in the monasteries of his sisters, the nuns. 
The active witness of that love-f or-one-another which marks the 
nuns' vocation strengthens and safeguards the vocational mission 
of Dominic and his brothers by its stability and freedom from the 
world's illusions. In fact, I believe that the preaching work of 
the Order could not have begun, at least as Dominic envisioned 
it, until the nuns had been established in their withdrawal, and 
the image of Jesus Christ had been brought forth into the world 
by the nuns' ardent longing for the fulness of the Holy Spirit 
(LCM 1. IV.). 



64 

The nuns locate themselves by a divine call in a place where 
the world's meanings are silenced in order to hear the word of 
God so that it will not return to him empty but may accomplish 
those things for which it was sent (LCM 1. II.). Their "hidden 
life" (LCM 1. V.) is a silent one by necessity then. "The nuns 
listen to the word, celebrate it and keep it in their hearts, and 
in this way proclaim the gospel of God by the example of their 
lives" (LCM 96. I.). It is not enough to be physically separated 
from the world so as to proclaim Christ and be transformed into 
his image; the nun also cultivates silence. The world 
cultivates and propagates its meanings through language — we 
carry the world even in our minds. Silence in the enclosure, 
silence within the nun, suppresses the world's words and permits 
the Word of God to be conceived. 

"The Blessed Dominic 'rarely spoke except with God in 
prayer, or about God...'." Perhaps it would be drawing the line 
of distinction too sharply between the nuns and friars of the 
Order to say that the nuns are Dominic speaking with God in 
prayer, and the friars are Dominic speaking about God. I say too 
sharply because the nuns share as well in the ministry of the 
word. The nuns' constitutions, however, in addressing this 
shared ministry of the word link it to their vocation of prayer: 
"The brethren of the Order, 'commissioned entirely for spreading 
abroad the word of God," fulfill their vocation primarily by 
preaching. The nuns, while commissioned by God primarily for 
prayer, are not for that reason excluded from the ministry of the 
word" (LCM 96. I. ) . 



65 

Prayer is the true image of God in the world because Christ 
prayed on the cross. Prayer is the root of the Dominican nun's 
life, then, for it is the cause of the new humanity born from the 
side of Christ. Prayer-as-life is the most eloquent counterpoise 
to the world, that self-generated image of humanity's disordered 
society and history. "In fulfilling (all of the constitutional 
prescriptions for prayer) they are truly nuns of the Order of 
Preachers" (LCM 74. IV.). The prayer of Christ on the cross is 
his revelation of the Father to us at the moment of his own 
return. That prayer is the historical donation of Trinitarian 
life — Divine Society — because in emptying himself, Jesus gave 
over the Spirit of Life. The liturgy of the Eucharist is the 
presence and activity of this perichoretic love. It is the only 
prayer, and the living image of the community of God. "Hence the 
solemn celebration of the liturgy is the heart of our whole life 
and the chief and the chief source of its unity" (LCM 75.). The 
eucharistic prayer leads the nun to private prayer (LCM 89.) and 
to an increase of the Theological virtues (LCM, 90.), the 
keystone of Christian maturity. 

Prayer is the image of Christ alive and reigning because 
through his prayer Jesus unites in love those who believe in him 
("And I — once I am lifted up from the earth -- will draw all 
men to myself." Jn 12:32). Prayer-as-life is made possible by 
withdrawal and silence. But what fosters it is lectio divina . 
The nuns' constitutions state, " Lectio divina is ordained to a 
real dialogue with God, for 'we speak to God when we pray, we 
hear him when we read the divine sayings'," ( St. Ambrose quoted 



66 

in LCM 97. I). We see here why lectio divina is essential to the 
image of the new humanity: Jesus' return to the Father on the 
cross was the Word speaking -- at which moment the mystery of the 
Father's fulness was heard forever in human history, a recreative 
silence over which their Spirit breathed. In silence, pondering 
the divine sayings, the nun hears this Word nourishing her 
vocation to prayer-as-life. "The nuns should ponder the 
scriptures deeply, so that like our blessed Father Dominic, the 
nuns may pass easily from reading to prayer, from prayer to 
meditation, and from meditation to contemplation" (LCM 98. I.), 
the fulness and end of prayer. 



I have argued that the nuns' vocation is to demonstrate the 
unity in love that brings the world to believe in the one whom 
the Father has sent. Withdrawal from the world is the 
precondition of this ministry of salvation. The friars' 
constitutions also speak of unity: "We are reminded by the Rule 
that the primary reason why we are gathered together is that we 
may dwell together in unity..." (LCO 2. I.). This is a communion 
"in mind and heart" that extends to all the friars of the Order, 
i.e., it is not specific to a particular convent, although it 
does not exclude this. Thus the friars live a unity-in-the-world 
that signifies that which they preach: "Rooted in the love of 
God, the unanimity of our life should provide an example of the 
universal reconciliation in Christ, which by word we preach" (LCO 



b7 

2. II.). 

Reconciliation is union with God through conversion of heart 
and the forgiveness of sins. Only the Word, the true image of 
God and humankind, can do this. The words of the friars call all 
people to this unity in the Word. Secured by the example of 
their lives, they incarnate the Word himself in the world where 
people acquire identity and knowledge through words. Thus the 
friars' unity is in mind as well as heart because meaning, 
generated through social relations and supported and reproduced 
by culture, is personalized in the mind. We are conscious of 
ourselves as elements of the world, that is, as persons, by the 
various human "words" we have in mind. To the minds of people 
from the minds of the friars, the word of reconciliation leading 
to unity enters the world of human words. This mission is 
supported by the witness of their unanimity of life. 

Silence in the constitutions of the friars serves the 
ministry of Word and words: "Silence shall be diligently observed 
by the brethren, especially in places and at times reserved for 
prayer and study..." (LCO 46. I.). In prayer, the image of God, 
Jesus Christ the Word, affects mind and heart; in study, the 
image of human society enters mind and heart. United in mind and 
heart by Dominican fraternity, the friar turns the word of God to 
the words of humankind in order to turn people to God the Word 
who brings all things into unity. The vocational and ministerial 
equality of prayer and study is distinctive to the Dominican 
friar. With respect to the purpose of religious silence, the 
constitutions do not prioritize them. 



68 

In the whole outline of the friars 1 constitutions, however, 
there is a ranking. First, the liturgies of the Eucharist and 
the hours are dealt with. Next, other forms of prayer are 
enjoined. Lectio divina (LCO 66. I.) is not given a separate 
heading as it is in the nuns' constitutions where there is an 
entire article devoted to it (LCM 97-99.). For the friars, 
lectio divina is encouraged as one of several fruitful means to 
contemplate, converse with, and foster friendship with God. 
Following prayer, there is an extensive section devoted to 
study. Significantly this section precedes the one which deals 
with the mission of the friars, namely, preaching. 

"St. Dominic included study, ordained to the ministry of 
salvation, as an essential part of his plan for the Order — this 
was no small innovation" (LCO 76.). "Before all else, our study 
is aimed principally and ardently at this: that we might be able 
to be useful to the souls of our neighbors" (LCO 77.). Compare 
this with the constitutions of the nuns: "The methodical study of 
sacred truth, according to the capacity of the individual, is a 
fruitful preparation for lectio divina and an aid to human 
maturity" (LCM 100.). AS with the friar, so with the nun: study 
is to serve the apostolate, the ministry of salvation. For the 
friar this directs him into the world to his neighbor; for the 
nun, this directs her to the scriptures where she ponders the 
divine address so as to pass easily from reading to prayer, from 
prayer to meditation, and from meditation to contemplation. 
Study aids her human maturation into the image of Christ, a free 
person in the Person of the Son made capable of living-in-love in 



b9 

a community of women regenerated and united in Christ. 

The friar too lives a religious unity with his brothers but 
its power is translated into human words, bringing the divine 
word to a reception and comprehension in the world, which, as I 
have argued, is a culture of human meanings. The constitutions 
therefore mandate that not only scripture and the sacred sciences 
be studied, but also the Fathers, who are witnesses of Christian 
thought, and St. Thomas, our brother and model (LCO 79, 81-82.). 
But the friars are told to study as well the living tradition of 
the church, to open dialogue with contemporary scholars, and to 
know the most recent science and discoveries (LCO 81.). The 
human maturation of the friar, who calls the world to a true 
human solidarity by the proclamation of the Word in human words, 
is a maturity jji the cultural context which he embraces not by 
resisting evil but by loving. The nun demonstrates to culture a 
world created and nurtured on the Word, the true image of God and 
humankind. The friar acquires the culture of the world, taking 
its meanings upon himself there to transform them into the image 
of God through a collaboration with his brothers. Dominican nun 
and friar share a single apostolate of the Word, and each calls 
people away from the illusions of the world and its meanings to 
freedom and truth in Christ. The nuns, however, withdraw from 
the world to live that true unity in love which the friars enter 
the world to proclaim as the vocation of all people. The place 
and nature of study in this shared mission are determined by 
those respective ends. 

In a real sense, Dominic intended the nuns to benefit from 



70 

the friars' acquaintance with the world through study and the 
proclamation of the Word. I have already suggested that he 
joined both the friars and nuns together in a unique ministry of 
the Word in which the nuns become a living sign of truth and a 
safeguard for the friars as they become immersed in the meanings 
of the world. Because their engagement with the world is solely 
for its salvation, the friars are especially enabled to bring to 
their sisters the refinement of methods and ideas which have been 
successful in making the Word heard and believed in the cultures 
of human society. This can only aid in lectio divina leading to 
contemplation of God. 

The fruit of the friar's contemplation which study has aided 
shows itself in the preaching of the Truth. The fruit of the 
nun's contemplation shows itself in the unity-in-love which leads 
the world to believe in Jesus, the one whom the Father has sent. 
Study for the friar is turned to the world as it is; study for 
the nun is returned to the life which she lives in that unity 
which is love, withdrawn from the world with her sisters. Study 
for the Dominican nun is turned to that world which awaits all 
who are reborn in Christ -- a world they make real for all to see 
and hope. 

Down through the Christian centuries, the gospel has been 
both lived and proclaimed. Since sacred scripture is the 
embodiment of the Word in human words, lectio divina is central 
to the nun's vocation. It is important, therefore, to study 
those who have studied the human and divine relations evident in 
scripture since the alternations of cultures through time affect 



71 

the reception of sacred scripture and thus, to a certain degree, 
lectio divina . The Fathers are the best and earliest witnesses 
of what later was to appear as the unique Dominican vocation of 
studious preparation in the meanings of the human world in order 
to proclaim the Word. Thus the Fathers are studied by both the 
nuns and the friars -- by the friars because of the various 
methods employed in differing human contexts to make a hearing 
for the Word, and by the nuns because of the Fathers' manifold 
insights about the Word himself. The theology of St. Thomas is 
at root an explication of the scriptures and Catholic tradition 
so purely wrought that for all practical purposes it is 
perennial. For the friar he is a model of how to engage the 
meanings of the human world in the service of the gospel; for the 
nuns, he is an unsurpassed guide for understanding the height and 
depth of sacred scripture, and thus for lectio divina leading to 
contemplation of God. 



As Dominicans, nuns and friars share a common and 
collaborative ministry of the Word for the salvation of 
humankind. Both engage the illusions of the human world in the 
exercise of that ministry. However, they engage the world in 
different ways. The nuns withdraw from it in order to image the 
society of the Trinity, absent the determining influences of 
human culture. The friars bring themselves to ministerial 
maturity within human culture in order to understand and 



72 

transform its world of meanings into the image of God. Study 
figures into both evangelical missions but only as determined by 
the needs of their respective approaches. Thus the nun studies 
to return her to the contemplation of the Word so as to image the 
unity and love of God in the world. The friar studies so as to 
turn the world to the Word of God, its true image and only 
happiness . 



Kasper, Walter. The God of Jesus Christ . Trans. Matthew 
J. O'Connell. New York: Crossroad, 1987. 

Lowenthal, Leo. Literature, Popular Culture, and Society . Palo 
Alto, Calf.: Pacific Books, 1961. 

Marcuse, Herbert. "The Affirmative Character of Culture." 
Negations . Trans. Jeremy J. Shapiro. London: Free Association 
Books, 1988. 



MONASTIC 
TRADITION 



I 

I 
I 



73 
A PARABLE OF THE WORD 

(A modest response within the context of Fr. Bill Barron's profound 
presentation: PRAYER; STUDY; WITHDRAWAL as Interior Attitude and Disciplined 
Focus . McLean Assembly, September, 1992.) 

The kingdom of heaven is like this. There was a child born into this world, 
and, in the making, the Lord engraved words upon her heart. One of these 
graven words was: "We have here no lasting city". In due time as she viewed 
the world about her, another graven word came forth: "God saw all that he had 
made and, indeed it was very good". There were however, storms and dangers 
about this good world, but the Lord, her God, said to her: "Peace. I myself, 
Faithful and True, will shelter you with my presence." And so it happened. 

The Lord, her God, led her to live in a quiet flowering desert to speak to her 
heart, to teach her to love him with her whole being, to be his betrothed. And 
she lived there with her Lord, at one with her brothers and sisters, in a holy 
dwelling that looked like an eight-pointed star engulfed in a blazing ball of 
fire, and its name rested above it: MY GOD MY MERCY. Some who dwelt there 
remained to tend the fire, and others were sent forth into the world with the 
Book of the Gospel and a flaming torch. 

She remained within the holy dwelling and entered the cell of self-knowledge, 
but she was slow to learn and is so to this day, though closer to burial than 
to birth. Gradually another graven word came forth: "You are wretched, 
pitiable, poor, blind and naked". Day by day she sat with this word and 
pondered it in the dark bright light of God's love. The awareness of her 
lowliness and poverty increased, and she bore within her heart a flame and 
within the flame, a tear as heavy as lead. She washed the feet of her Lord 
with this tear, but it remained, heavy as lead. Suddenly the Lord transported 
her to a hill and invited her to live there. And she lived there, at one with 
her brothers and sisters, in a holy dwelling that looked like an eight -pointed 
star engulfed in a blazing ball of fire, and its name rested above it: MY GOD 
MY MERCY. Some who dwelt there remained to tend the fire, and others were sent 
forth into the world with the Book of the Gospel and a flaming torch. 

From this hill the Lord showed her a city teeming with wretchedness: poverty, 
ignorance, drugs, prostitution, violence, pain and oppression. .. .hopelessness. 
Her heart nearly burst with sorrow for she knew well by now what it is to bear 
such fearful darkness. So each day she stands by an open window calling to all 
who pass by: "Deeply do we share with you your weakness, your woundedness. 
Come brothers and sisters, images of God, share his strength and healing with 
us!" Then a graven word is heard: "THIS IS MY BODY". 

******** 

"On the wall of my cell is a wood -burned crucifix that I received on the day of 
my profession* The engraving is fading away with time.... 

May the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit 

engrave it in me 

so that I may become 

' inexpressible groanings ' (Rm.8:27) 

for my human brothers and sisters." 1 



lr The words of one of the Nuns of the Dominican Monastery, Berthierville, 
Canada, in their videotape Au Coeur du Monde . 

Sr. Lee, O.P., Bronx 



74 



DOMINICAN VISION FOR THE FUTURE: 
A REFLECTION 

Sr. Jean Mane, O.P. 
North Guilford 

Dominic, as he formed his followers into a new Order, shared 
his vision also with the group of women who had been gathered 
together at Prouille. Our monastic vocation is rooted in our 
Dominican charism which gives it its unique character and spirit. 
Where do we find those elements that define our charism? The 
basic spirit of the Order is found in the 'Fundamental 
Constitution of the Order.'' In the "Fundamental Constitution of 
the Nuns'' and LCM we have that charism made specific to the 
Nuns . 

FUNDAMENTAL CONSTITUTION OF THE ORDER 

The first three sections state the very essence of the 
Dominican charism: a following of Christ through sharing in the 
universal mission of the Church, dedication to evangelization, an 
intense relationship to the Word of God, Gospel living, and the 
explicit seeking of salvation for all men and women. The 
communion of members and our universal mission are essential to 
our Dominican identity and flow from the ecclesial character of 
our charism and its goal, the salvation of all. The remaining 
sections of the document complete the picture of Dominican life 
by outlining the various elements that define it. 

Section IV speaks of living the common life, the evangelical 
counsels, common celebration of the Liturgy, study and regular 
observance, which not only give glory to God but "but serve 
directly the salvation of mankind..'" Our governmental structure 
is also essential to the character of Dominican life. These 
elements indeed dedicate us to the Word of God and prepare for 
the preaching to which we are committed. These essential 
structures of our life directly contribute to our mission and 
goal . 

Then the Constitution states a fundamental principle of 
Dominican living: "These elements are closely interconnected and 
carefully balanced, mutually enriching one another, so that in 
their synthesis the proper life of the Order is established" 
(IV). It is in this synthesis of elements, carefully balanced, 
closely interconnected and mutually enriching that we have the 
great wisdom of Dominic's charism. 

Sections VI and VII speak of the Order's structure which 
arises from its mission and the communion of the members. Our 
mission to preach the Word to all nations gives the Order a 
universal character. From our mission flows our obedience and 
the need for personal responsibility and the use of the gifts of 
the members. Section VI speaks of this responsibility and 



75 



affirmation of personal gifts in relationship to the preaching, 
but I believe these characteristics belong to Dominican life 
wherever it is lived and form part of its nature. Dominican 
life, with its great respect for the goodness of human nature, 
calls for initiative and responsibility from the individual as we 
seek to realize in our common life the full purpose of our 
calling. Section VII speaks of Dominican government as also 
flowing from our communion and universality. Our governmental 
structure is one of "organic and balanced participation" of all 
the members "for pursuing the special end of the Order. " Our 
Fundamental Constitution in Section V echoes this by saying: 
"The nuns seek God by ... pursuing communion through their manner 
of government . " 

RENEWAL, REVISION AND CONVERSION 

The last paragraph of Section VII and Section VIII speak of 
the important place of renewal within the Order. Our government 
is "particularly suited for the Order's development and frequent 
renewal" (VII). Renewal is necessary for the sake of Christian 
conversion, preaching, and an intimate relationship to the Word 
of God as it is manifest in each generation and epoch of history. 
The power of revision and the ability to enact laws which allow 
the Order to remain faithful to its mission is a distinct 
characteristic of Dominican government. Every element of the 
Dominican structure points towards and enables us to fulfill the 
goal given us by Dominic. As dispensation in our tradition is 
for the sake of fulfilling our common vocation, so too, this 
power of revision is for the sake of living our life with greater 
fidelity to the Gospel. 

ESSENTIAL DOMINICAN CHARACTERISTICS AND THE NUNS 

The Nuns too embrace all the elements of Dominican life as a 
following of Christ and a way of living the Gospel. We share in 
Dominic's vision and in the Order's fundamental spirit and 
mission. Those particular and essential characteristics that 
mold our Dominican existence are total dedication to the Word of 
God, an ecclesial and apostolic vocation, indeed an intimate 
sharing in the salvific mission of Christ. Our vocation as nuns 
of the Order forms the specific way in which we appropriate all 
the essential characteristics of the Dominican charism. As 
Dominicans we have been given totally to the proclamation of the 
Word of God through prayer, penance and the witness of our lives 
and are dedicated in a new way to the universal church, sharing 
fully in the evangelical and salvific vocation of the Order.' In 
section II of the Fundamental Constitution our way of life is 
identified with the friars and is characterized as a life of 
perfection "which is effective in caring for and obtaining the 
salvation of all people." In the chapter on lectio and study our 
legislation again makes clear our special relationship to the 
preaching and the Word of God and the salvific mission of Christ. 

Finally we add the elements of conversion and renewal, 



76 



personal responsibility, mutual trust and the use of personal 
gifts for the good of all and the fulfillment of our mission. 
Monastic life is characterized by stability, yet we too need a 
system of renewal that is faithful to the Order's tradition and 
enables us to introduce those changes necessary for remaining 
faithful to our charism as it exists in each new age. Renewal 
and conversion presuppose those wonderful characteristics that 
Dominic possessed and imparted to all his followers: courage, 
hope and trust in one another. Renewal and conversion are 
fundamental to Dominic's vision and therefore an essential part 
of our own identity as Dominicans. I think this involves not 
only an ability to discern outward stimuli and incorporate those 
elements in the present culture that are enduring, but also that 
inner dynamism which calls us to exercise good government and 
empower the gifts that our sisters possess. In regard to renewal 
and governmental responsibility, one area we need to look at is 
calling new and younger members into roles of leadership. The 
council should be representative of the whole community, from 
all the varied sectors of community, young and old. Just as it 
is not good to reelect superiors over and over, so I think we 
also need to have a variety of people serving as council members. 

CURRENT ISSUES AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENT 

What are some of the current issues that have effected 
changes in our way of life and continue to shape us toward the 
future? The impetus comes both from without and from within our 
monastic life. From without the most obvious are the changes 
implemented by Vatican II, the rapidly changing condition of 
society, international communication and also the changing 
position of women in the world. All these have profoundly 
affected religious living. From within we have the changes in 
our Constitutions, the need for vocations and the need to 
understand and communicate with the women who will be entering, 
smaller and aging communities, and the closing of houses. These 
circumstances have sparked a growing concern for the quality of 
Dominican monastic life throughout the world. 

The changing position of women in society has had a definite 
effect on our monastic life, especially in the light of new 
governmental responsibilities. When Dominic founded our first 
communities self-government was not a possibility for women. Now 
this has changed radically. The movement toward more autonomy 
for women's communities in governing themselves and the more 
equal status of women in society as a whole will bring about a 
greater delegation of responsibilities to our monasteries. This 
movement has already affected Canon Law which in turn affects all 
legislation for communities of women. We now live in a society 
where women are expected to undertake the responsible direction 
of thei r 1 i ves . 

The changes in LCM, especially with regard to government, 
have been an important reality shaping our future. The 
governmental legislation of LCM extends not only to good 



77 



government within our monasteries but also calls for universal 
legislative structures. The growing awareness of the universal 
dimension of our life is closely related to this change in LCM. 

The greater possibility for self-government given to the 
nuns by their Constitutions makes many changes necessary for 
future growth and in order to live out LCM fully. We have the 
legislative power to become more responsible for our life but 
without the necessary structure to make such responsi- bility an 
effective reality. Thus we have seen the establishment of a 
commission of nuns and an outreach toward one another in order to 
improve communication and foster mutual awareness and 
understanding of our vocation internationally. This movement 
toward mutual help and unity has been fostered nationally through 
federations and conferences. 

GOVERNMENTAL STRUCTURES 

The 1971 revision of our Constitutions was our first radical 
revision of legislation since that done by Humbert. 2 This 
revision for the first time gave us a more direct and responsible 
role in promulgating our own legislation. 

The 1971 Constitutions restored some very basic Dominican 
elements and in particular the unique character of Dominican 
government with its balance of governmental elements. The few 
changes in the 1981 Constitutions reinforced this. In these two 
revisions, that of 1971 and 1981, we have reclaimed our close 
interconnectedness to the Order's legislative spirit, no longer 
solely through our relationship to the brothers but directly, as 
our own legislation calls us to take up the task of self- 
government, locally and internationally, following our wonderful 
Dominican tradition. 

This power is something we are still beginning to take up 
and develop. Clear, precise and objective legislation is a 
hallmark of the Dominican tradition and now we, the nuns, need to 
develop a greater ability to enact such legislation without over- 
dependence on outside help. For this, education and study are 
important so that we may take responsibility for ourselves 
maturely and competently. Our new governmental structures and 
their use will lead us to take a greater responsibility for the 
direction of our lives, become more proficient in enacting our 
own legislation and capable of establishing a system of 
accountability in which we will serve directly, i.e., a system of 
visitations and accountability that involves the nuns themselves 
and not only the friars. I know there have been abuses in the 
past that have instilled distrust and caution, but there have 
also been many mistakes made under the present system. These 
stem not only from misdirection by outside sources but also from 
our dependency and inability to be responsible for the direction 
of our 1 i ves . 

We are dealing with three levels of governmental structure: 



78 



1) the Directories which give the particular spirit and character 
of the individual monastery chapter: 2) LCM, an international 
level of legislation which entails more responsibility for us in 
changing our Constitutions when necessary; and 3) our juridical 
bond to the Order and the responsibility and accountability that 
involves. It seems to me we must be clear about each of these 
levels. Today we need to look at our governmental structure as 
it affects our common identity as Dominicans united constitu- 
tionally, our responsibilities within the local monastery chapter 
and our accountability to the Order. These three levels are 
supporting entities of Dominican government, mutually enriching 
and traditional to the government of the Order. The governmental 
legislation given in LCM follows the general contours of that 
type of government which has been part of the Order from the very 
beginning. It is indeed Dominic's unique and wonderful heritage 
to us. 

There are two particular aspects of Dominican government 
that I feel we need to look at because of present developments. 
They are accountability and representation. 

ACCOUNTABILITY AND REPRESENTATION 

First let us look at the concept of accountability. A 
system of accountability has been a part of Dominican government 
since its inception. The different components of our government 
(chapter, superior and council) provide a set of checks and 
balances on every level of Dominican government, both locally and 
internationally. I believe we need to look at this aspect of 
accountability more closely and also move toward those structures 
which will provide a system of accountability for Dominican 
monastic life on a broader level. 

The idea of accountability includes not only responsibility 
within the dimensions of our life and governmental structures as 
nuns but also our accountability to the Order. This is expressed 
through our profession of obedience to the Master of the Order. 
The Fundamental Constitution of the Order (VI) states that 
obedience to the Master is a principle of unity within the Order. 
There is a very real sense in which, as part of the Order, we can 
and need to be called to accountability for our faithfulness to 
the Dominican charism. This is and can continue to be one of the 
avenues of checks and balances for which Dominican government is 
noted and our link to the Order in this way offsets an unhealthy 
isolationism. But at the same time it is also necessary to take 
a more active and enlightened role in this universal dimension of 
our life. The new commission of nuns is beginning this important 
task. The two facets that seem important to retain and develop 
are our continued link to the Order with its accountability and a 
new enlightened and responsible participation by the nuns 
themselves in this area of decision-making. As we move forward 
into a future where we will be more directly responsible for our 
life I think it necessary to remain closely united to the Order 
and to our direct relationship to it. 



79 



Secondly we have the issue of representation. On the 
national and international level the question of representation 
is very important. The structure of monastic communities, as a 
grouping of autonomous monasteries which in the past have had 
very little communication with one another, takes on a new 
character in the light of our present Constitutions. A system or 
representation has always been an essential part of Dominican 
government. For us to work with our present legislation on a 
national and international level a system of representation is 
necessary. Thus we can see again the importance of the 
international commission and precisely this movement toward 
representation. There is no other way for us to deal effectively 
as a group given the governmental legislation of LCM. Good 
communication among us is thus so important at this epoch of our 
existence. To truly foster our vocation and role in the Order it 
seems we must develop our sense of common identity as an 
international entity rooted in a common Dominican monastic 
tradition. This common focus on our purpose and goal seems 
especially important in the light of the many urgent needs facing 
our monasteries throughout the world-- lack of vocations, 
dwindling numbers, foundations, lack of personnel — and in order 
to foster healthy Dominican monastic presence throughout the 
world. The purpose of all of this is to strengthen our unity 
within the total reality of our Dominican cloistered life. 

SUMMARY: DOMINICAN VISION 

A vision for the future would contain all the basic elements 
outlined in this paper. It is a future commitment that we have 
already begun, are presently caught up in, and continue to move 
toward. This is a time for special reflection on our present 
experience so that we may move surely and with enlightened 
foresight into the future. 

The text of LCM 181 has done much to start this process 
which is shaping us anew and calling us to new maturity and a 
greater unity and cohesiveness as a group: a future which unites 
us as an international group, with the need to work together and 
grow together in order to strengthen our common Dominican 
heritage. To realize such a vision communication on a national 
and international level is necessary. This task we are facing is 
one that calls for education, dialogue, communication. It will 
not be accomplished overnight but I firmly believe we are 
undertaking these new responsibilities in the power of the Spirit 
of God and therefore will grasp more deeply that to which we have 
been called in Christ Jesus. Jesus says all will know we are his 
disciples when we have attained the same unity that he and the 
Father share (Jn 17:23). So to move toward possessing a greater 
unity among all Dominican nuns is surely to preach the Lord Jesus 
with greater alacrity and to qraso our Dominican vocation more 
deepl y . 



80 



NOTES 



1. LCM, 2. II. 3. II, 74. IV. 75. 

2. There were three revisions of our legislation before that of 
1971: Humbert of Romans. 1259: A.V. Jandel. 1868 and Martin 
Gil let, 1931. All three were In response to changes in church 
legislation and ordinances of General Chapters. The purpose of 
Humbert's revision was to bring a greater legislative unity to the 
various customs and regulations practiced in the different houses. 
Jandel 's revision remained essentially that of Humbert. His 
revision was in response to legislation from Trent. What was 
peculiar to Jandel 's edition was the commentary by Ambroise Potton, 
O.P., which was printed along with the constitutional texts. The 
Commentary though not legislatively binding took on the aura of law 
for the nuns which eventually caused confusion and 
misunderstanding. When Gil let revised the constitution in 1931, 
the elimination of Potton ' s commentary from the Book of the 
Constitutions caused problems in getting some of the monasteries 
to accept the new legislation. Again the Gil let revision remained 
essentially that of Humbert with those changes necessary to update 
it according to the New Code of his time. 



WORK AND THE INROADS OF ACTIVISM 



Sister Mary Amata, O.P. 
Washington, DC 



INTRODUCTION 



Entering the 21st century of Christian existence, and 
approaching the 8th centenary of Dominican Life, it is appropriate 
to consider the place of work in our lives, and particularly the 
inroads that activism threatens to make. We see the timeliness of 
these considerations in the very themes of the 1988 and 1992 
General Assemblies: FREE FOR GOD ALONE and RECLAIMING THE 
DOMINICAN VISION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY. 



FRAMING THE QUESTION 

Questions about work, and its place in the life of the nun 
have many interesting precedents in the developing history of 
cenobitic life. Among the first ones that come to mind, there is 
the cook in the Pachomian community, who used his "spare" kitchen 
time to make rush mats. To our way of thinking, this was a praise- 
worthy effort to help support the community. So we are quite 
surprised to find that Pachomius collected the five hundred mats 
and burned them, after rebuking the brother for neglecting his duty 
to the community. (1) 

What about St. Teresa of Avila catching herself dashing off 
to check on this or that need, and then having to make herself sit 
back down to finish her prayer? Or the procuratrix, at San Jose, 
worrying that the community's meager supply of cooking oil will 
burn and be lost if Teresa has an ecstasy while cooking? (2) 

Is Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection a possible example for 
us to emulate? He seems to have been remarkable even in his own 
community for being able to maintain a proper perspective on work 
in his life. (3) 

Clearly, this is an age-old problem, if we can use such a 
term. Even in America almost two hundred years ago, Saint 
Elizabeth Ann Seton had to warn her first Sisters to be careful 
that they did not let themselves get caught in the "rat race." She 
reminds them about working: 

Do it in the manner God wills it, not sewing an old thing 
as if it were new, or a new thing as if it were old; not 
fretting because the oven is too hot, or in a fuss 
because it is too cold. You understand — not flying and 
driving because your are hurried, not creeping like a 
snail because no one pushes you. (4) 



82 



When we think of our modern western society in these last 
years of the 20th century, the image and images that come to mind 
are so busy, so action-packed and achievement-oriented, it is 
little wonder that the contemplative life is considered to be 
counter -cultural . 

How many people find themselves trying to do two, three, or 
even four things at once, let alone "moonlighting" on several jobs? 
There are isometric exercises that you can do while you listen to 
a tape while you are riding the bus to work. There are instant 
breakfast drinks to be swallowed in a gulp as you dash to the gym 
to get in a quick workout before the special education session on 
how to effectively manage your time, so that you can get in more 
leisure activities and quality family time in the extra hour of 
light that you get from daylight savings time. There are incentive 
rewards for being more productive at work, so that they can 
encourage you to retire early, and hire a lower salaried worker to 
take your place in the job force. 

In our wonderful, action oriented, "instant" society that is 
so geared up for production, why are so many people constantly 
searching for peace and fulfillment? Indeed, why did any one of 
us come to this life of contemplation? 

Are we so very different when we look closely at the reality 
of our own lives? How many times do we find ourselves, as 
individuals and as communities, trying to squeeze our schedule just 
a little more closely together to get more time for work? How 
often do we have to juggle community recreation and leisure time, 
and even the times for prayer and study, against the "demands" of 
work? What about begrudging time spent in community meetings 
and/or practicing for the liturgy, as depriving us of "work time"? 
Isn't all this "robbing Peter to pay Paul?" 



SCRIPTURAL THEMES/INSIGHTS 

I think that we can find a way to overcome the tendency to 
activism in a very familiar line — Psalm 46:10 — Be still and 
know that I am God. The text has two parts for us to analyze at 
this time. 

Be still. The very first word "be," is the verb "to be, to 
exist." And then we have an adverb telling us how to exist, "in 
quietness." But this is not a stillness that is dead, it is more 
the stillness of the gentle lapping waves at the lake shore; or the 
quiet, gentle stillness of a sleeping baby; or again, the contented 
stillness of sitting and rocking on the front porch in the quiet 
of the evening. 



83 

Know that I Am God. Here too, there are several thoughts all 
interrelated. First of all, "know" is to be read and heard in the 
deep Semitic sense of experiencing. It is something so much richer 
than the mere intellectual knowing we are accustomed to using; this 
is the deep experience of knowing that is conveyed in the phrase 
"and he knew his wife." Incredible as it seems, this is how we 
are to KNOW GOD! 

Next there is the Being we are to know — GOD. We see an 
added emphasis, a repetition, in the words, "I Am God," when we 
remember that "I Am" is the proper name for God, the name that 
Moses learned in the encounter with the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). 
It is somewhat like Catherine of Siena hearing God say: "You are 
she who is not, and I Am He Who IS." 

We hear God saying to us: "I Am God. I, not you, am The 

Creator. I am not a phantasm of your imagination, doing things as 

you think they are to be done. Do you think that I am like you? 
I am God, not man. " 

In the 1st letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul reminds us that 
we are to work in the world, but not be immersed in the world that 
we are working in. As he says, we have not adopted the spirit of 
the world. (5) 

This is the example that Jesus the Carpenter's Son, and all 
of the Holy Family, set before us. Pope Paul VI used this theme 
in his teaching: 

In Nazareth, the home of a craftsman's son, we learn 
about work and the discipline it entails. I would 
especially like to recognize its value — demanding yet 
redeeming — and to give it proper respect. I would 
remind everyone that work has its own dignity. On the 
other hand it is not an end in itself. Its value and 
free character, however, derive not only from its place 
in the economic system, as they say, but rather from the 
purpose it serves. (6) 



PRACTICAL REFLECTIONS 

Yet, there are also very real practical questions that we must 
face in evaluating the place of work in our lives. If we do not 
maintain the balance that our lives require, we run the risk of 
being either all work, or no work. So, we must consider the rhythm 
of our lives from several aspects. 

First, there is the question of how much "productive labor" 
or "remunerative work" is necessary from a financial point of view. 
This question will thus include considerations of our style of 
living, and even how we pursue studies, and our household work, 
caring for the sick, etc. 



84 



Second, there is the primacy that the liturgical rhythm of the 
Church year gives to times and seasons in our routine life. How 
do we fit our work into the daily schedule of the Liturgy of the 
Hours? How do we plan our work to allow for the special holy times 
like Advent and Christmas; Lent, Holy Week and Easter; the annual 
retreat; etc.? (7) 

Next, how do we regard our individual "charges" vis a vis the 
community projects and the common good? 

A final question concerns our very future as Dominican Nuns. 
We will have to give serious consideration to the ramifications of 
our understanding of work in order to be able to pass this life on 
to the Sisters in formation. Do we want them to see our life as 
a "life of the workaholic nuns"? 



SUMMATION 

I wonder if these thoughts about WORK AND THE INROADS OF 

ACTIVISM in our lives, can be summarized within the framework of 
the original temptation in the Garden of Eden. The subtle lie of 
the devil was that they would not die if they did eat the forbidden 
fruit. And, the primary temptation for Adam and Eve was that they 
would be like God, knowing good from evil. 

How much different is this from our situation today? There 
is the subtle lie that we will not die in the process of gaining 
our goal. And are we not tempted to be like God? Only in this 
case, it is to be like God who is pure Act, rather than to remain 
the creature of God, both potency and act. 

CONCLUSION 

St. Dominic and the first nuns gave work a definite place in 
the horarium. And LCM does not neglect this valuable form of 
asceticism. Yes, work is essential, but it is always a part of, 
in fact only one of, the means that we use to reach our end — 
union with God and the salvation of souls. (8) This is the 
perspective that must always be remembered as we live our lives. 

Maintaining the true values of our life will enable us to 
keep this essential perspective on the very priorities that drew 
us to Dominican contemplative life. These ends supply us with 
guiding principles for balancing the traditional customs and 
practices of religious life with the modern needs of living in the 
21st century. 

St. Dominic had the wisdom to do this in the 13th century. 
May we have a share in that wisdom in our own days. 



85 



(1) Pachomi an Koinonia. Volume II. Pachomian Chronicles an d Rules, 
Translated with introduction by Armand Veilleux, (Cistercian 
Publications, Inc., Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1981), pp. 36-38. 

(2) The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila. Translated by 
Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD, (ICS Publications, 
Washington DC. ) 

(3) See Henri Nouwen's thoughts in his forward to: The Practice 
of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, 
newly translated, with an Introduction by John J. Delaney, forward 
by Henri J. M. Nouwen, (Image books, a division of Doubleday and 
Company, Inc., Garden City, NY, 1977), pp. 9-12 

(4) Liturgy of the Hours, Volume 1, (Catholic Book Publishing 
Company, New York, 1975), p. 1690. 

(5) cf. 1 Corinthians 7:30, 31; 2:12. 

(6) Liturgy of the Hours. Volume 1, (Catholic Book Publishing 
Company, New York, 1975), p. 428. 

(7) In farming communities, the school year used to be, and 
sometimes still is, structured around the planting and harvesting 
seasons. 

(8) LCM 35. II. 



86 
THE WORKAHOLIC SYNDROME AND ORIGINAL SIN 



Sister Maria Agnes, OP 
Summit 



PRELUDE 



The monastic contemplative life is the calm and serenity 
of unceasing activity, carried on as a means to a higher 
life of the spirit. Hildegard of Bingen described this higher 
life in musical language: "Like billowing clouds, like the in- 
cessant gurgle of the brook, the longing of the soul can never 
be stilled. It is this longing with which holy persons seek 
their work from God." (1) 

In all walks of life, we meet dedicated people who 
respond to the demands of their vocation by working hard. 
They have been trained to a selfless commitment through 
fervent service after the example of Christ who washed his 
disciples' feet. The authenticity of a self-transcending life 
is made visible in deeply caring service and through different 
types of work. LCM 105:1 points out that work, in our state 
of life, provides us with experience, and by its demands and 
difficulties, challenges us to transcend its successes and 
reverses. Work also reveals human potential, stimulates the 
life-force within each person, and perfects her unique 
giftedness . 

For centuries, men and women have adjusted themselves to 
the changing attitudes and conditions in the world of work. 
They are involved in a rapidly changing process of trans- 
formation of the whole concept of work, service and freedom. 
The empirical sciences have expanded the field of vision 
concerning the changing nature of work and the development of 
human skills in modern technology. This article focuses on 
contemporary work as an experience, graced and human, in an 
industrialized culture. St. Thomas makes a distinction 
between opus , or the work of humans as co-creators and 
artists, and onus , which is work as a burden and a curse. (2) 
This Thomistic distinction is highly relevant to modern 
society and technology and to our present topic which is a 
countercultural critique of the pragmatic, omnipotent American 
work ethic. Omnipotent! How easily work can become an 
alternative to the transcendent God! With how many 
subtleties, inflections and chromaticisms does human work 
project the illusions and falsity of the world, ("world" in 
the Johannine sense) when it is not redeemed and transfigured 
in Christ! Together, let us look into this issue with a view 
to integrating current knowledge and traditional values, while 
opening up new paths to future inquiry. 



THE WORKAHOLIC 'S KEY SIGNATURE; "I AM WHAT I DO " 

There are people whose desire to work long and hard is 
an ingrained habit and whose goals and work patterns almost 
always exceed the demands of the job they do and the 
expectations of the people with whom, through whom, and for 
whom they work. Not all hard working people, however, are 
workaholics. The time and energy spent at work and the weight 
of work are not a reliable index to workaholism. Long working 
hours are not the sine qua non of the workaholic syndrome. It 
is the attitude towards work, the hefty and compulsive 
appetite for work, which are the key to the whole issue of 
work addictologia . When a person uses work to prevent herself 
from being in touch with her inner life - bodily, psycho- 
logically, and spiritually - and when she needs more work in 
progression, we say she is addicted to work. (3) 

The workaholic has difficulty in accepting herself for 
who she is. Self-worth is rooted in what she does. Job, 
projects and titles of office are the primary external means 
to her self-identity. Try to ask the "un-self ed" person who 
she is and she would tell you what she is doing, or better 
still, she will give you a list of her accomplishments. The 
workaholic's low self-esteem stems from the fear that there 
might be nobody within her worth knowing and loving. The 
workaholic has abandoned her inner core. In some cases, 
there is a complex interplay between human motivations and 
compulsive needs on the one hand, and religious experience and 
spiritual motivations on the other. (4) 

A compulsive drivenness dominates the daily life of the 
work addict. Compulsion goes beyond the area of work and 
chemical addiction. Some back-up addictions to the workaholic 
syndrome are relationships, collecting things, and reading 
books without gentleness and moderation. Work addiction also 
goes hand in hand with functional relationships. The 
workaholic cannot say "No" to unreasonable demands for fear of 
disapproval. She seeks love and affirmation through being 
useful, rushing and caring. Work is her self-definition and 
emotional stance towards people. Non-activity such as rest 
and meditation must justify themselves as necessary means for 
greater productivity. 

The first and final defense of the addictive process is 
denial. Other people support the denial by praising the 
workaholic as good, generous, self-effacing and heroic. To be 
super-good and super-efficient are contingent to being 
lovable. That is why workaholism is more difficult to grapple 
with than alcoholism because it can become a chronic 
affliction masquerading as a virtue in the cultural lore and 
ethic of religious people. (5) 



88 



FUGUE: TYPES OF WORKAHOLICS 

The GENERIC WORKAHOLIC fits the stereotype to a T. In 
order to achieve perfect control, she orchestrates her work 
schedule into a predictable time frame. Time management is 
the key to success. Compulsion and perfectionism go hand in 
hand to create a pressure cooker atmosphere when and where she 
works. Try to visualize the tremendous outpour of energy when 
the generic workaholic is being chased by deadlines, real or 
imaginary. She seems to move faster than the rest of the 
world. The metronomic tempo is presto agitato . A sense of 
emptiness keeps her working all the time. She works beyond 
work and feels useless when there is not much to do. (6) 

The generic workaholic is a one-dimensional person- 
ality. Leisure goes against her grain. At recreation, she is 
either busy at something or thinking and talking about work 
and more work. In matters of relationships, it is easier for 
her to sustain intimacy with work than with people. Her 
interactions with others are oriented towards functions and 
projects. When working with others, she de-motivates people 
by denying them the opportunity to practice initiative. Time, 
space and creativity are controlled by the generic worka- 
holic. She is critical of others' works and she fears to 
relinquish her job. 

The INTEGRATED WORKAHOLIC is a well-rounded personality 
type who enjoys work as well as other interests. She can be 
astonishingly happy and productive, finding work enjoyable and 
richly rewarding. The joy and stress of overwork inebriates 
her. A tight schedule that calls for split-second timing 
would hardly scare an integrated worker out of her wits. By 
working on the right things at the right time, she diversifies 
her day and adds a spice of adventure to every task. She 
knows how to psyche herself up by making the most of her time 
with the least stress. She also has the talent to simplify 
the methods of doing a job. People look up to her as capable 
and trustworthy. 

An example of this type is the closet worker. (7) Like 
the closet eater who eats moderately at mealtimes and snacks 
on the sly, the closet worker accomplishes a slew of hidden 
projects. In fact, she has a huge supply of work inside her 
"mental closet." When you work with an integrated workaholic, 
the tempo is molto allegro e con brio. Her social contacts 
are invariably work-oriented. Ongoing projects serve to 
maintain relationships. Try to ask an integrated worker how 
she gets along with people and she will tell you how well she 
works with and through others. This type of worker, however, 
has great potential for true friendships that deepen and ripen 
with time. 



89 



A third type is the INTENSE WORKAHOLIC who loses her 
perspective and acquires a tunnel vision while absorbed in 
work. She focuses only on one thing: the job or list of jobs 
to be done. Rigidity, rather than spontaneity, characterizes 
the intense worker's approach to both work and play. She 
pursues leisure and recreation with the same intensity and 
gumption as she pursues work. Games are another form of 
work. A hobby is to be done with the same intensity and 
preoccupation as one pursues work and study. She works hard 
to have fun and her self-conscious efforts are carefully 
planned and structured. 

We can take a look at the binge worker as an example. (8) 
Like the binge drinker, the binge worker will be moderate for 
a period of time. Then, suddenly, she will plunge into a 
breakneck schedule of activities. During this phase, she 
forgets herself and becomes absorbed by the work. The only 
difference between the binge worker and the binge drinker is 
that the substance of addiction is work, not alcohol. Work 
serves as a tension release valve to numb the feelings, quiet 
down questions, anxiety, doubts and unresolved emotional 
hurts. Binging is a psychological stance and common 
behavioral pattern for an intense workaholic. When she is in 
a binging mood, her pace accelerates into a molto allegro e 
con fuoco . This behavior, however, should not be confused 
with having to put on extra time and effort to finish a 
necessary task. 

The intense workaholic is not well suited for teamwork 
or group projects because she is more likely to compete than 
to collaborate with others. Personal objectives and 
individual style come before the common goal. Her unswerving 
standard of excellence pushes her to think of and work out 
every detail of the job. Like the generic workaholic, she 
controls and de-motivates those who work with or under her. 

The DIFFUSE WORKAHOLIC generates energy by "putting her 
fingers in lots of pies." Work, for her, is not just a job. 
It is also a source of child-like enjoyment. Ah! How many 
hours she spends busying herself with unnecessary tasks 1 With 
an allegro vivace tempo, she starts projects and pursues 
interests in many fields and drops them easily. Her short 
span of attention keeps her switching gears from time to 
time. She is not able to decide what is really necessary at a 
given time. Prioritizing is an alien thing to the diffuse 
worker. Oftentimes, her behavior is absurd or simply 
humorous . 

A grasping stance towards things is an effect of this 
syndrome. The diffuse worker obsessively collects and hoards 
things. In fact, she gets out of sync when she loses or 
misplaces' an item in her collection. She thrives well in a 



90 



cluttered room and will not clear it for fear she would have 
to face her inner self. A clutter takes her out of herself 
and frees her from an encounter with who she really is. This 
compulsive collecting of things can be transferred to ideas, 
relationships and power-generating jobs. 

The WORK ANOREXIC (9) suffers from a poor self-image. 
Immobility and the compulsive avoidance of steady, 
conscientious work is her defense mechanism against fear of 
failure. The fear of making mistakes, of being ridiculed, 
criticized or rejected inevitably leads to procrastination. 
There is no finishing line for the anorexic workaholic, 
because she underestimates how long a project will take and 
then rushes to complete it. She dismisses hours and days into 
eternity with a nonchalant attitude. This behavior calls for 
a cool, aloof panache to conceal anxiety and uncertainty. 
Time hangs heavily on the hands of the anorexic worker. Her 
constant pace is adagio . What does she do when caught with 
the end of the year's log-jam of "must do"? Well, she either 
enters the new year without getting anything done or she 
manages to rustle up a few things. When the peak moment comes 
for an imperative act, she can turn into a rushaholic. Like 
the driver who gets caught in the final rush hour, the 
anorexic steps on the accelerator, gathers momentum, and, with 
a quick screech, roars through the open gate just a few 
seconds before it closes. A habitual anorexic pattern 
eclipses her sense of true self-worth. A person who either 
focuses on self by avoiding or turning away from self through 
compulsive overwork has a poor self-image, and this is the 
essence of pride. Workaholics can move through all five types 
easily. There is no strict categorization of types. 

THE DEVELOPMENTAL ASPECT OF WORKAHOLISM 

The workaholic syndrome is the confluence of childhood 
upbringing, job and career experience in the world and early 
religious formation. The research and study of psychologists 
confirm the fact that workaholism is an extrapolation of 
childhood development brought about by doting, ambitious 
parents and exacting mentors. (10) Most children feel that 
they should meet the lofty goals set before them by their 
elders. Would it not be terrifying to fall short of family 
and school standards? This attitude can be carried over to 
the religious life and perpetuated by a novice mistress who 
expects much from herself as formator by setting up a very 
high standard of excellence in training candidates. Then 
follows the ever-increasing demands and expectations of the 
community. The more a person accomplishes and produces, the 
more she is appreciated, until she begins to see love and 
acceptance as contingent on peak performance of jobs. Through 
utility and productivity, the person's sense of value and love- 
worthiness becomes contingent on the affirmation of others. 



91 

Recognition and acceptance are earned by being useful , 
competent, rushing and caring. 

In some religious communities, the workaholic syndrome 
has become a considerable cachet. The religious stamp of 
workaholism is the most dignified and respectable version of 
addiction because it is productive. Many people began the 
addictive process as children. They have had 30, 40 or even 
60 years of developmental conditioning in this behavioral 
pattern. The good person is someone who works non-stop 
without counting the cost. Prayer oftentimes suffers. The 
liturgy and private prayer receive the dregs of leftover 
energy. "I have fallen into the great indignity I have 
written against," wrote the young Thomas Merton, " I am a 
contemplative who is ready to collapse from overwork. This, I 
think, is a sin and the punishment of sin, but now, I have got 
to turn it to good use, and be a saint by it, somehow. "( 1 1 ) 

When the community is the workaholic, several options 
emerge. Some members leave, but that is a risk, for they 
might find themselves in the same situation. Those who stay 
survive the community's workaholism by pursuing work with the 
adrenal courage of soldiers. 

COUNTERPOINT; LEISURE, REST AND RECREATION 

"Workaholics commit slow suicide by refusing to allow 
the child within them to play," says Dr. Lawrence Susser, a 
psychologist who also trained as a pediatrician. ( 12 ) Work 
and play are like contrapuntal melodies in one rhythmic 
movement. Where work invests energy that is self-fulfilling 
by reason of its product, play involves human effort that is 
immediately enjoyable in itself. A person will be more 
valuable to the community with the proper amount of leisure, 
rest and recreation. The inability to relax comes, not from 
the work itself, but from the wrong attitude towards work. 
Nothing purifies, focuses and ennobles work more than periods 
of non-activity. These periods dismantle one's defenses and 
internal forms of aggression. 

Here are questions we might want to ask ourselves: 

1. Do we find it difficult to sit, relax and enjoy 
being ourselves without having to follow a specific agenda? 

2. Are our retreats, holydays and weekends planned in 
advance to accomplish some tasks or to catch up with a backlog 
of pending projects? 

3. Do we feel uncomfortable at recreation unless our 
hands are busy at something all the time? 



92 



4. Are we experiencing feelings that we want to avoid, 
so that busyness makes those feelings beyond our reach? 

5. Is recreation adulterated by shop talk and work 
concerns? 

6. Do we use work projects and hobbies as buffers 
because we have difficulty communicating and relating with 
others on a person-to-person basis? 

7. Do we keep processing work in our minds during 
prayer, at recreation, and at bedtime? 

8. Do we play work-oriented, serious games? 

9. Are we able to distinguish between work and hobby, 
and do we become aware when a hobby has turned into a time- 
consuming job, a career, or a business enterprise? 

10. Do we have feelings of shame and guilt when we are 
not producing something tangible during retreats, holydays, 
weekends and in time of illness and convalescence? 

If you answered yes to three or more of those questions, 
there is a chance that you are a workaholic or well on your 
way to becoming one. 

After the Egyptian bondage, the Hebrews served God in 
worship, work and rest (Gen. 2:1-13). Repose affected even 
slaves and animals (Cf. Ps . 127:1-2). Aristotle considered 
recuperative rest and cheerful play as necessities of life. 
St. Thomas provides a fitting counterpoint to this 
Aristotelian ethic: "Therefore, unmitigated seriousness 
indicates a lack of virtue because it wholly despises play, 
which is as necessary for a good human life as rest is." (13) 
St. Thomas' philosophy of play is oriented towards a balanced 
humanness. He sets forth in detail the virtue of eutrapelia 
which enables the human person to relax, enjoy and play as a 
sign of a nobly formed character and a well integrated 
personality. (14) 

DISSONANCE, HARMONY AND RECOVERY 

Dr. Gerald G. May, director for spiritual guidance at 
Shalem Institute in Washington, D.C., claims that the 
neurological, psychological and spiritual dynamics of 
addiction are actively at work within every human being. "The 
same processes that are responsible for addiction to alcohol 
and narcotics," he explains, "are also responsible for 
addiction to ideas, work, relationships, power, mood swings, 



9 3 



fantasies, and an endless variety of things. "(15) When we 
really want to do something, some form of addiction is bound 
to set in. A particular kind of personality distortion occurs 
with addiction, not as its cause but as its effect. (16) 

Workaholism, like alcoholism, is both a substance and a 
process addiction. In alcoholism, the drinker is addicted to 
alcohol (substance), and to the process of drinking (getting 
drunk). Workaholics are addicted to the process of working 
and to the high adrenalin level in the body. Activism 
generates this body chemical. The energy surfeit overflows 
and tends to block the person's ability to monitor her bodily 
and psychological needs. This alienation from the body 
through workaholism is propelled by a self-generated and high 
adrenalin level. (17) 

Stress-related illnesses eventually result from this 
process. The stress which a workaholic experiences is not due 
to work but rather comes from the attitude and feelings about 
work. Health problems are not caused by the hours of work. 
"Stress comes about when the process goes against your grain," 
says Dr. John Rhoades in the 1977 Journal of the Medical 
Association. Stress suppresses the body's immune system which 
then becomes susceptible to viral infection. Some stress- 
related illnesses are ulcers, gastro-intestinal problems, 
backaches, migraines, sleeping disorders, manic-euphoria, 
severe depression, memory losses and blackouts, and periods of 
temporary "comatose" during prayer. Stress is a side effect 
of worry, anxiety and poor work methods and organization. A 
healthy relationship with the work process is the key to the 
issue of human wholeness - physical, mental and spiritual. 
While the hands are busy at work, the mind and heart are 
clogged with the how-to. Mental activity is also doing, 
especially if it is an obsessive thinking that intrudes into 
prayer, rest and sleep. (18) Addiction erodes inner freedom 
and, moreover, it displaces and supplants God's love as the 
source and object of true desire. Adrian van Kaam formulates 
it this way: "Addiction is as fundamental a possibility of 
human life as is religious presence. As a matter of fact, 
they are so deeply interrelated that it can be said that 
addiction is a perverted religious presence that has lost its 
true object. Consequently, it enslaves instead of liberates 
the person." Van Kaam does not speak here of a specific type 
of addiction, but about the fundamental attitude which 
underlies the concrete forms and manifestations of any kind of 
addiction. It is this basic attitude which is a counterfeit 
of religious presence. ( 19 ) 

Recovery from addiction needs the wisdom of hindsight, 
prayer ,• gentleness with self and with others. Recovery cannot 
be accomplished by mere effort and will power. It requires an 



94 



honest confrontation with the subtleties and liabilities of 
the addictive process in the light of God's grace. In the 
monastic tradition, work, like study, is an ascetical 
discipline that frees the nun/monk from the tyranny of the 
passions, not through the extirpation of the senses and bodily 
needs, but in their harmonious ordering toward a higher end: 
God and the spiritual life. We are not to deny the body what 
it needs nor pamper it beyond its needs. Extreme asceticism 
is just as dangerous and sensual as self-indulgence. Because 
of original sin, human integration is something to be attained 
through constant striving. Hence, the importance of self- 
knowledge and humility. 

THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES ; 

The rhythm of action and contemplation has been a 
significant component of the monastic ideal for centuries. 
There is an intimate relation of work with worship and rest. 
Through the person's union with the Mystical Body of Christ 
and her solidarity with the human race, work is social, 
liturgical and eschatological . It perfects the created 
universe and prepares humankind for the second coming of 
Christ. Every Christian is called to upbuild the socio- 
economic order and to make it subject to redemptive grace. 
This contemporary Catholic thought had been adumbrated in 
biblical and early Christian writings. Work was ordained by 
God to be the rational creature's dynamic relation to the 
created universe and the expression of human dignity (Cf . Gen. 
1:28). Work, in its fallen state, means suffering, oppression 
and death, which robs work of its lasting fruit. The 
alienation from and the penal aspect of work are not proper to 
its essence but are brought about by the performance of it 
(Cf. Gen 3:17; Ex. 1:11-14; Dt. 28:29b-33). Yet, because work 
is primarily an activity of God, it is also a way of return to 
him from disintegrity and alienation (Cf. Gen. 3:17-19). The 
human person as imago Dei shares in God's enabling spirit who 
is ceaselessly working in external events as well as within 
every human being. For God, work is not laborious, and his 
creative act is entirely free in its spontaneity. The dignity 
of work lies in its capacity to serve, enlighten and enrich 
human and Christian living. In work, we recapitulate the 
mission of Christ who became man to lead us back to the Father 
(Cf. LCM 104). The work entrusted to Christians through the 
second Adam empowers them to serve others in a deeply caring 
way (Cf. Mt. 20:26; 25:44; Pt . 4:8-11). Through Christ, we 
are all loved, accepted and have eternal worth. St. Paul's 
magna carta of human work has the dynamism of law because it 
is instructive, exhortatory and directional. Paul brings into 
focus the obligation of work into the very heart of being 
human, with its orientation towards a supernatural end in 
freedom of spirit ( Cf . 2 Thess. 3:6-12). 



93 



Early in the 4th century, Athanasius, in his life of 
Antony, interiorized the value of work for Christians, 
stressing that it is a weapon against evil spirits;; it also 
forestalls temptations .( 20 ) Ambrose of Milan, even before 
Augustine, perceived the interior-exterior dimension of human 
labor. For Ambrose, there is no virtue without labor, for 
labor is the genesis of virtue. He also taught an asceticism 
in which the virtues are precisely the virtues of Christ in 
us. We seek Christ, not the virtues. (21) Monasticism, in all 
ages, has discovered the necessity of tempering the work open 
to nuns/monks because obviously, not all types of work are 
compatible to a life of prayer, silence and enclosure ( Cf . LCM 
106: III, IV). Work is to be tested against the other 
elements of monastic life and must make room for the full 
humanity of each person. Work, with its counterpart of study, 
prayer, lectio and fasting, is an important aspect of ascetic 
poverty and of common life (Cf. LCM 105: I, II )> In Dominican 
monastic life, work is set in a wider perspective. It 
includes physical as well as intellectual work such as study, 
research and writing that are necessary and of service to the 
community (LCM 106: II). 

Let us recall a few traditional themes from Augustine's 
writings that square with the present issue. We shall 
reinforce our essay by quoting a passage from R.A. Markus who 
comments on Augustine's thought about work: 

Labor belongs only to man's growth and 
maturity. It belongs neither to his 
archetypal childhood innocence, nor to 
his fully human eschatological stature. It 
is a discipline, an askesis ; but a discipline 
not of purgation and purification so much as 
of growth. But from the primal state of 
innocence, through the growing restoration 
of wholeness, to the final achievement of 
mature manhood, the dignity of work is man's 
privilege. It is a far cry from Adam's work, 
work "without the affliction of labor but with 
exhilaration of will" (The Literal Meaning of 
Genesis VIII, 8,15), to the work of toiling 
and sinful man. But in their essence, the two 
things remain the same: the worker "so to speak, 
lends his skill and ministry to God the creator 
in the service of nature" (ibid., IV, 16, 29) ... 
To the natural order as constituted by God, man 
brings his rational powers and voluntary activity 
to explore, to preserve and to enhance that power 
(ibid.). In this is to be found the excellence 



96 



and dignity of human work . . . magna haec et 
omnino humano (The Magnitude of the Soul 33, 72) 

... great and wholly human" that is his 

(Augustine's) verdict on human work and its 
achievement. (22) 

Let us now sum up the praxis of this article with a 
Twelve-Step Program for re-integration: (23) 

1. We admit that work has become the inalienable source 
of our identity and self-worth and that our power of loving is 
losing its freedom to addiction. 

2. We pray for courage to reclaim our spontaneity and 
freedom of spirit (Cf. LCM I:V) and to transcend the downward 
drag of human compulsion which makes work a degradation proper 
to hurried slaves. 

3. We have become more mindful that mere efficiency 
must not usurp the space and freedom reserved for love. 

4. We shall nurture every present moment with serenity, 
joy and gratitude by doing one thing at a time - openly, fully 
and lovingly - without stifling the precious moment with 
tension, fussiness, anxiety and mental overloads of oncoming 
tasks . 

5. We learn to prioritize by subordinating work to 
prayer and contemplation according to the spirit of the 
beatitudes (Cf. LCM 105:111; LCM 106:1), and we try to be 
flexible to events by reorganizing lesser priorities as 
needed. 

6. We do not yield to pressure or attempt to pressure 
others. When we feel tense, we pause to be in touch with God, 
who is dynamically present in every individual 's temperament 
and rhythm. 

7. We keep in mind that offices and functions are not 
ways and means of possessing and controlling other persons or 
stategizing our behavior towards them. Offices and functions 
are channels of God's immanence in our daily living of the 
gospel . 

8. We avoid work that creates feverish pressure and 
agitation and is, therefore, incompatible with a life of 
prayer. We strive to be free from work at some time each day 
and for a number of days during the year (Cf. LCM 106:111, 
IV). 

9. We believe that the right attitude towards work and 



97 



a well-balanced distribution of work assignments are the key 
to the three-part harmony of seeking, finding and 
contemplating God. 

10. We rejoice in fulfilling the designs of the triune 
God as we image his creative and redemptive act (Cf. LCM:104), 
through the harmonious blending of work, prayer, leisure and 
mature relationships. 

11. We strive to make our community a wellspring for 
spiritual deepening and development and not just a place of 
human resources, utility and productivity. 

12. We keep closely united with Christ who endowed work 
with a new power and dignity in a reconciled creation. Work 
is a freedom which prepares us for entry into God's eternal 
repose . 

POSTLUDE 

A PSALM MEDITATION 

The Lord is my pace-setter, I shall not rush. 

He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals; 

He provides me with images of stillness, which restore 

my serenity. 
He leads me in ways of efficiency through calmness of 

mind, 
And his guidance is peace. 
Even though I have great many things to accomplish 

each day 
I will not fret, for his presence is here. 
His timelessness , his all-importance will keep me in 

balance. 
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my 

activity 
By anointing my mind with his oils of tranquility. 
My cup of joyous energy overflows. 
Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruit of 

my hours 
For I shall walk in the pace of my Lord and dwell in 

his House forever. (24) 



98 



NOTES 

1 Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen , trans. Gabriele 
Uhlein (Santa Fe, NM: Bear and Company, 1982), p. 70. 

2 Cf. Summa Theologia 2a, 2ae 187.3; la, 2ae 57.3-4; 
LCM 106:11,111. 

3 Marilyn Machlowitz, Workaholics; Living with them, Working 
with them (Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing 
Company, 1980) , p. 11. 

4 Diane Fassel, Working Ourselves to Death: the high cost of 
workaholism and the rewards of recovery (San Francisco: 
Harper-Collins Publishers, 1990), p. 30f. 

5 Ibid . , p. 27f . 

6 Machlowitz, op. cit., pp. 17, 33-35, 43, 47. 

7 Fassell, op. cit., p. 18. 

8 Ibid . , p. 23f. 

9 Ibid. 

10 See Machlowitz, op. cit., p. 40f. 

11 Thomas Merton, Sign of Jonas (New York: Harcourt, Brace 
and Company, 1953), p. 257. 

12 Quoted in Machlowitz, op. cit., p. 100. 

13 Nochomachean Ethics IV, 16, 854. Quoted in Hugo Rahner's 
Man at Play (New York: Herder & Herder, 1972), p. 102. 

14 Cf. Summa Theologia 2a, 2ae, 168. 2-4; Cf . Aristotle, 
Nichomachean Ethics X, 6, 1176 B; IV, 9, 1128 A; II, 7, 
1108 A. 

15 Gerald May, M.D., Addiction and Grace (San Francisco: 
Harper and Row Publishers, 1988), p. 3f. 

1 6 Ibid. , p . 55. 

17 Fassel, op. cit., p. 8-9. 

18 Gerald May, M.D., The Awakened Heart; Living Beyon d 
Addiction (San Francisco: Harper and Row Publishers, 
1991) , p. 213. 



99 



19. Adrian van Kaam, Personality Fulfillment in the Spiritual 
Life ( William-Barre, PA: Dimension Books, 1966), p. 123. 

20 Athanasius, The Life of Antony and the Letter to Marcel li - 
nus , trans. Robert C. Gregg (New York: Paulist Press, 
1980), 3.50.53. 

21 Hexameron, Paradise, and Cain and Abel , trans. John Savage 
(New York: Fathers of the Church, 1961), 2.2.8. 

22 "Work and Worker in Early Christianity" in Work: Christian 
Thought and Practice (London: Darton, Longmann and Todd, 
1960), p. 23. Quoted in Sr. Agatha Mary, The Rule of St . 
Augustine: An Essay in Understanding (Villanova: 
Augustinian Press, 1992), p. 221. 

23 A monastic adaptation of the 12-Step Program of Workaholic 
Anonymou s (Los Angeles, CA: Workaholics Anonymous, 1991); 
Also Gerald May, op. cit., pp. 213-232. 

24 A Japanese rendition of Psalm 23. Quoted in Basil 
Pennington, A Place Apart (New York: Doubleday & Company, 
1983) , p. 83. 



ACKNOWLEDGEMENT 

I am deeply grateful to Reverend Monsignor Andrew T. 
Cusack, Ph.D., who inspired and encouraged me to write this 
article and also recommended the source material for my 
research. Msgr. Cusack is the National Director for Clergy 
Formation which is based at Seton Hall University in South 
Orange, New Jersey. 



100 



FORMED BY THE WORD, TAUGHT BY THE SPIRIT, WE DARE TO STUDY 



Susan Heinemann, O.P. 
North Guilford 



What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, 

nor the heart of man conceived, 

what God has prepared for those who love him, 

God has revealed to us through the Spirit. 

For the Spirit searches everything, 

even the depths of God. 

1 Cor. 2:9-10 

God, the Creator of all, has offered the human family the 
supernatural destiny of fellowship with himself. By his grace, 
the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts, we are raised to a new 
level of existence wherein we are rendered capable of this divine 
friendship. This elevation of our entire state of being happens 
primarily through a transformation of our natural capacities for 
knowing and loving. By the infused theological virtues of faith, 
hope, and love, it becomes possible for God to be the object of 
these human activities. By faith we believe in God and all that 
he has revealed, through Scripture and Tradition, about himself 
and our destiny. By hope we embrace God, trusting in his power 
to accomplish all that he has promised. Hope enables us to live 
in firm expectation of the resurrection and our eternal enjoyment 
of God in himself. By love we are drawn into God's own 
Trinitarian life. The Spirit dwelling in us enables us to love 
God with, as it were, his own love. Through the theological 
virtues then we are enabled to know and love God, to become 
friends with God. 

While God invites all to this fellowship with himself in 
faith, hope and love, the way that this relationship is lived out 
differs according to the unique vocation of each person. For 
those called to Dominican monastic life there is a renunciation 
of various legitimate human concerns and pleasures in order to be 
"free for God alone." We embrace a whole way of life that is 
structured in such a way as to enable us to give as full 
expression as possible to this fellowship between God and his 
people and to be a sign of its fulfillment in the Kingdom when 
"God will be all in all." This eschatological way of life is 
fostered by certain observances. One of these is theological 
study. In fact this observance is considered to be one of the 
outstanding observances, along with common life, the celebration 
of the liturgy and private prayer, and the observance of the 
vows. Why is sacred study accorded such an important place? 

A closer look at what the Constitutions say about study 



101 



reveals that this observance is considered to be a means of both 
basic human development and one that pertains to our specific 
vocation in the Church. Concerning basic human development we 
read that study is an aid to human maturity, removes impediments 
that arise from ignorance, informs the practical judgment, and 
aids mental equilibrium. So we can see that on a very 
fundamental level study is an important means of human 
fulfillment and integrity. It is an activity which actualizes 
our potential: "Created minds, because their being is not 
infinite, are only potential of being in general, and are 
actualized by the things they understand." 1 It also perfects 
our nature, for "as a creature endowed with reason man's primary 
object is the acquistition of knowledge. Whenever, therefore, 
his understanding is deepened, his nature is brought 
correspondingly to its perfection." 2 

Another reason given by the Constitutions for observing the 
discipline of study is that it nourishes faith and contemplation. 
How does it do so, we might ask? To address this question and to 
further legitimize the importance of study in the life of the 
Dominican nun is the main burden of the following pages. We will 
begin by considering faith, sacred study and contemplation 
separately and then attempt to explain the relationship of these 
activities to one another. Faith will be considerd first as this 
is the disposition from which arise the other two activities. 

Faith is the gift whereby God raises our natural ability of 
knowing and makes it capable of having him as its object. 
Through faith we come to share in God's own knowledge of himself. 
We do this not by understanding but by assenting to the 
propositions of the faith. We assent to these propositions or 
revealed truths because we believe him who has revealed them. 
God, while not being directly perceived, remains the formal 
object of faith. The direct, immediate perception towards which 
our assent tends, is reserved for the blessed in heaven for whom 
the light of faith has given way to the light of glory. Only 
then will we see God as he is and know him with the full capacity 
of our intellects. "Here in this life God presents himself to 
the mind, not as evoking or making possible an act of 
intellectual vision, but as calling forth the only other 
cognitional union possible with him -- belief." 3 This 
cognitional union prepares us for the beatific vision and "can 
therefore be defined by Thomas as a habit of mind whereby eternal 
life is begun in us. 

Faith's act, belief, is essentially an act of the intellect 
but an imperfect one that thrusts us toward our ultimate end of 
the vision of God. "The mind of its nature strives towards its 
own completion." Belief as a knowing is inherently imperfect: 
"in so far as the light is not shared completely, the 
unf ul f i 1 lment of the mind is not completely overcome and so the 
pondering movement of the mind goes on restlessly.' It will 
reach completion only when the "light is shared completely." In 
the meantime faith must be nourished and our minds kept moving 



102 



toward their proper end. 

If the mind is not nourished with Truth, the perfect 
contemplation of which is its final end, it will get sidetracked. 
For "whoever turns away from his due end must needs substitute an 
undue one, since every agent acts for an end."' In other words, 
if the mind is not occupied with God and the things of God it 
will choose other ends. In the cloistered life of the Dominican 
nun, where there has been a renunciation of ordinary human 
concerns, this sidetracking could result in, for example, an 
excessive preoccupation with one's health, or work, or other 
people and their affairs. 

The mind can be occupied with whatever it wants. It is up 
to the will to direct it. Our desire for the good and the true 
must be guided -- our faith must be nourished. Whereas "the 
knowledge given with the light of glory remains permanently in 
the intellect of the blessed in heaven," 8 here it requires a 
continual choice. Because "appetite depends on knowledge,"' we 
can only continue to make the choice for our proper end by 
deepening our knowledge in faith. And since "a different level 
of knowledge means a different level of desiring," the more 
we know God and the things of God the more we desire him. It is 
this increasing desire that will prevent us from getting 
sidetracked and keep us moving toward our proper end. 

"Faith in us is a divine knowing, a definite communication 
of God's knowledge. But this communication is rather imperfect 
and the human spirit naturally desires a fuller grasp of the 
objects revealed." 11 We are therefore impelled to deepen our 
grasp of this knowledge of God in himself and what he has done 
for us. "This grasp can be sought either by supernatural 
activity in a vital manner and tending to imitate the mode of 
apprehension of God himself, [i.e. through contemplation] or by a 
properly intellectual activity which follows our human mode and 
is on the whole the work of theology." 12 In other words, 
contemplation and study are two ways in which we deepen our grasp 
of the object of faith. Let us now look more closely at each of 
these activities, beginning with study. 

What is sacred study? We have described faith as an assent 
to the Truth who is the Triune God and the mysteries of his plan 
of salvation which have been revealed to us. This revelation 
generates a whole body of knowledge which invites inquiry. 
Theology is the reasoned investigation into this body of 
knowledge. Practiced under the guiding light of faith it 
systematically delves into and explores the meaning of the 
explicit as well as the implicit divine truths contained in 
revelation. This activity involves the use of one's intellect, 
which has been raised by grace above its natural capacity, in an 
attempt to grasp discursively the truths of the Christian faith. 
In discussing the activity of theology Congar states that here 
"the penetration of the object is made by rational activity, 
according to the laws and methods of intelligence or, more 



103 



precisely, reason." In short, theology is faith seeking 
understanding . 

This rational activity would, however, remain sterile were 
it not for the Holy Spirit's gifts of Knowledge and 
Understanding which help us to enter into the mysteries we study. 
"The activity of faith is taken to a higher degree of perfection 
by the gift of Knowledge." The person operating under the 
Spirit's gift of Knowledge possesses the ability to make a 
"simple and almost instinctive judgement by which it is possible 
to discern what has to be believed from what should not be 
believed." 1 This gift which helps to perfect our faith gives 
us a taste for, a sensitivity to the mysteries we study. 

"The action of the Holy Spirit working through the Gift of 
Understanding also perfects faith and makes it capable of a 
certain inner penetration, the peak of which is negative in 
meaning. It does .this by means of a keen appreciation of God's 
transcendence...." In this way we learn what God is not and 
are continually liberated from false images of him. We begin to 
discover that God is no-thing, but rather the Source of 
everything. There "occurs a deepening of the darkness, but it is 
one that paradoxically illumines." 1 This learning of what God 
is not is essential . For "man reaches the highest point of his 
knowledge about God when he knows that he knows him not." 1 

The precise nature of the interplay between our activity and 
the Spirit's is a mystery. For, 

in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit the position 
of the human mind is one of moved rather than 
mover. And, therefore here too, there can be 
no question of how and how much. It would, 
after all, be absurd arrogance to attempt to 
discover the 'rules' by which the Holy Spirit 
of God permeates man's reflections and 
decisions . 



19 



Were it not for these gifts of the Spirit our study of theology 
would be lifeless. "A merely thinking theology, even though 
deriving from faith, is not a fully living theology unless 
quickened by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and can be a rather 
arid study of concepts." 2 

It is important to note, however, that while the gifts 
quicken our study it is still a "thinking theology." While we 
"have the. anointing that comes from the Holy One, so that all 
knowledge" is ours, (cf 1 Jn. 2:20) this knowledge that we have 
through the Spirit dwelling in us is not angelic knowledge. It 
is not an immediate apprehension of the Truth but one that come; 
to us in ways that respect the nature God has given us. 

St. Thomas frequently observes how the 
operations of grace, though taking us far 



104 



beyond, observe the modes of the operations 
of nature .... the human mind is not stilled by 
forms from another world, but must wrestle 
with this one and discover what lies behind 
and beyond by ranging from point to point. 
This discursus is present even in the 
activity of divine faith. 1 

The objection might be raised: if the Word is Truth, why is 
it not enough simply to read the Scriptures? In other words, 
what does study contribute to the monastic person's primary 
occupation of lectio divina? The Constitutions answer this by 
saying that sacred study is a fruitful prepartion for lectio. 
Once again we must inquire further and ask how it prepares us for 
lectio. There are many ways in which it does so. 

Scripture is "not merely a simple human testimony on the 
action of God, nor even, as could be inferred from certain 
Protestant works, a force hidden under the letter which would act 
on the souls of its readers by its existential dynamism."" 
Hence our reading of the sacred texts must be enlightened and 
intelligent. The discipline of study helps it to be so in a 
variety of ways. First, as was mentioned above, study helps us 
to develop as persons. It actualizes our potential and perfects 
our nature. Thus the person that we bring to the text is a 
fuller one, someone who is more ripe for the relationship that 
lectio is. Secondly, sacred study trains the mind to ask 
questions and therefore when we sit down with the text of 
Scripture it is more apt to be the real and intelligent dialogue 
that it is meant to be. 

Liam Walsh, O.P., in discusssing study in the life of the 
Dominican nuns, said that "the only time the human mind stops 
asking questions is at the Parousia." 23 We, while eagerly 
awaiting the Parousia, must always guard against a spiritual 
death wherein our intellects have atrophied and we do in fact 
stop asking questions about the faith. Study is one of the ways 
that we do this. 

At this point it might be helpful to insert a word of 
caution about the dangers of the opposite extreme which, 
interestingly enough, Thomas posited as the more serious danger. 
We must guard against an immoderate curiosity and the asking of 
so many questions that we lose the ability and the requisite 
stillness to listen to the answers. There is also another danger 
that might be pointed out -- that of overemphasizing the 
intellectual life to such an extent that we fail to take into 
account individual differences. The Constitutions are quite 
clear that study is to be undertaken according to the capacity of 
each sister. 

The Scriptures contain a whole world view, a map as it were 
of God's view of reality. Studying the contents in a systematic 
way helps us to penetrate that vantage point more precisely, to 



105 



explore the fine details and to gain access to the annotations, 
if you will, of those who have previously journeyed through and 
made their home in that territory. In other words, another way 
that study prepares us for sacred reading is by offering us 
access to the fruits of others', centuries of others, pondering 
and expounding of the mysteries contained therein. When we have 
been exposed to and have grappled with these treasures, we are 
inclined not only to ask questions but, the right questions. We 
learn how the Church has understood and explicated the truths 
contained in Scripture and our own reading of the sacred texts is 
thus guided along the lines of orthodoxy. 

Having pierced more deeply into the biblical world we know 
it more fully and are shaped by this knowledge. Our lives are 
changed and are brought into closer conformity with the way that 
God knows the world to be, i.e., with Truth. This living of the 
truth approaches the purity of heart to which is promised the 
vision of God. Study then quite spontaneously leads to and 
spills over into the other activity to which we will now turn our 
attention -- contemplation. 

The way that people have understood the activity signified 
by the word contemplation has undergone drastic changes over the 
centuries. Simon Tugwell, O.P., has suggested that the word be 
dropped for fifty years or so until christians get a hold of 
it. The history of what this word has meant is long and 
complex and beyond the scope of this paper. Let us just say that 
the working definition used here will be that of the mind 
delighting in the Truth. We can speak of the mind enjoying the 
First Truth, and this is perhaps the primary sense of the term. 
But we can also speak of the mind enjoying the truth that resides 
in all things because, as created reality, they participate in 
and reflect the Being of that First Truth who is God. 

Contemplation differs from theology in that, while having 
the same Truth as its object, it is a resting in or gazing upon 
it as possessed, rather than a grappling with it. "It is 
intuitive rather than discursive because it is chiefly a vision 
rather than an investigation or study."" By describing 
contemplation in this way we are defining it as a primarily 
intellectual activity but one which also involves the emotions 
and the will. How are all of these faculties involved? 

We must now speak more specifically of the theological 
virtue of charity and the Spirit's gift of Wisdom which perfects 
it. "With charity there is the experience of being in love with 
God, of the reality believed in; this in turn becomes the basis 
for a cognitive experience that sustains and deepens faith."' 
This cognitive experience is the work of the Spirit's gift of 
Wisdom. 

Wisdom's primary work is contemplative, the 
appreciative gazing on the loveliness of God. 
The intellect is moved by the impulse of the 



106 



Spirit to penetrate the deep things of God. 
Yet we must note that while this knowledge is 
profound and rich it is not clear. Its 
perfection is not to be understood by 
analogies with rational and abstract 
knowledge, but rather with the obscure 
process whereby a lover comes to know his 
beloved, or to the poetic experience whereby 
a person is grasped strongly and yet 
inarticulately by the beautiful. 

In combining wisdom with charity Thomas shows his genius at 
work. Here he is making explicit use of the theme of the 
reciprocal influence of reason and appetite that was alluded to 
earlier when we spoke of the necessity of nurturing our faith. 

He binds together knowing and willing, seeing 
and loving. His basic insight is this: 
knowledge of the goodness of an object causes 
us to love it; love then brings about a 
different and better knowledge; this new 
appreciation deepens the love which, in turn, 
intensifies the appreciation, and so on. 

With great profundity Thomas "recognizes that love is more 
unitive than knowledge in seeking the thing not the thing's 
reason; its bent is to a real union though this can only be 
constituted by knowledge." The union is constituted by 
knowledge because in knowing the knower and the known are one. 

It should be evident that contemplation is not understood 
here as some Neoplatonic flight into another realm but a deeper 
penetration into the reality of things and of God himself as a 
result of our union with him in faith and charity. "By the 
superhuman force of a grace-given love, man may become one with 
God to such an extent that he receives, so to speak, the capacity 
and the right to see created things from God's point of 
view...." 3 '' One with the Father in the Son through the gift of 
the Spirit we begin to know things with God's own knowledge of 
them. 

The eye of perfected friendship with God is 
aware of the deeper dimensions of reality.... 
To those who have this greater love of God 
the truth of real things is revealed more 
plainly and brilliantly; above all the 
supernatural reality of the Trinitarian God 
is made known to them more movingly and 
overwhelmingly . 

This is christian contemplation -- perceiving God and his 
reflection in all things. It is both an act and a way of life, 
the fulness of which awaits the beatific vision. Now we see 



107 



dimly as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. 

Our study and our contemplation are two distinct activities 
which both arise out of a faith which is animated by charity and 
perfected by the gifts of the Spirit. Sharing the same source 
they also share the same direct object -- the triune God. Both 
activites result in an acquisition of knowledge, one which is the 
fruit of the reasoning process and the other the result of an 
experience of the same realities. This experience comes about as 
the Spirit's gift of Wisdom confers a certain connatural ity on us 
and we know things through a kinship with them. The mind 

sees and tastes how all God's works are 
traceable to his mercy; it tastes the 
difference between love and justice in God; 
it knows God's goodness because it 'suffers' 
that goodnes; it is thoroughly convinced of 
God's awesome power because it has been 
brushed by that power and sometimes almost 
crushed by that power; it understands God's 
peace because it is immersed in that 
peace. ... 

Hence, while it is the same realities that are known, the mode of 
the knowledge is different. 

To summarize: theology is the reasoned investigation, under 
the light of faith, into the mysteries of God that have been 
revealed to us through Scripture and Tradition. This activity 
involves the use of one's intellect in an attempt to grasp 
rationally the truths of the faith. Contemplation is the 
experiential, intuitive encounter with the Truth who is God, a 
Trinity of persons. It is an act of the intellect which is also 
an encounter in love. Theology involves a great deal of 
disciplined human effort and activity -- an activity, however, 
which is performed in co-operation with the Spirit. In 
contemplation the person is passive and at rest because it has 
attained the goal for which it was striving. The attainment of 
this goal is sheer gift. Whereas in theology we are straining 
toward God, engaging all our human powers, in contemplation he 
bends down to us. But this bending down occurs in a way that 
respects the nature he has given us, i.e., God does not impose 
himself on us as an alien force but rather elevates our faculties 
to enable us to receive him as a friend. In contemplation a 
deeper sensitivity to divine things is born which in turn 
sharpens our facility for perceiving reflections of the divine in 
all of created reality and for penetrating the mysteries that we 
study. Both together help us to see (albeit in faith) the good 
more clearly. Hence, our wills are impelled to an increasingly 
ardent reaching out toward the good in both study and prayer. 

The two activities of theology and contemplation are indeed 
distinct. But for a person in love with God and gifted by the 
Spirit, they are simply two intimately connected activities that 



108 



support and flow in and out of one another as the person gropes 
her way in faith and in the hope of the blessed day when she 
shall see, face to face, him for whom she longs. Then the dark 
knowledge of faith will give way to the clear knowledge of 
vision. 

Friends do not usually analyze their relationship in terms 
of various activities and of who is contributing what to the 
relationship and in what way. They are simply so caught up with 
each other that distinctions of this sort seem to vanish. So it 
is with doing theology and contemplating. Sometimes we are 
exerting a disciplined rational effort in order to attain a 
deeper understanding of the mystery of God and his economy of 
salvation. Other times we are simply resting in the divine Truth 
who has bent down to us and raised us up to share in his own 
knowledge of things and in the mystery of his own Triune life. 
We only step back to consider the relationship between these two 
complementary activities with the hope that the clarity gained 
will serve to foster growth in all aspects of the relationship 
and enable us to articulate and share what we have received with 
our friends and communities. 

In conclusion, we have seen that theological study, which 
arises out of faith and spills over into contemplation, is a 
legitimate and important activity in our lives as Dominican nuns. 
It both assists us to grow as human persons and to live our 
specifically eschatological vocation. Study frees us from false 
images of God and makes us alive to the truth and goodness of all 
things. This in turn leads to a deeper concern for the ultimate 
fulfillment of all of creation, especially that of our fellow 
human beings, all of whom God desires as his friends. Thus 
charity comes to perfection within us and we are shaped into more 
faithful co-operators in the work of redemption. We become true 
friends and servants of God who ardently long for, are moving 
toward, and fixed upon that day when "God will be all in all." 



NOTES 



1. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Th eologiae . ed . Timothy 

McDermott , (Westminster : Christian Classics, 1989) lae 79, ad 2. 

2. Per Erik Persson, Sacra Doctrinal Reason and Revelation in 
Aquinas (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970) 36. 

3. T.C. O'Brien, Appendix 1 "Objects and Virtues" in Thomas 
Aquinas, Summa Theologiae . Vol 31, gen. ed . Thomas Gilby (New York: 
McGraw Hill , 1972) 185 . 

Please note: all subsequent references to the Summa Theologiae 
and its appendices will be abbreviated S_T and taken from this 
edition . 



109 



4 . Persson, 28. 

5. Thomas Aquinas, III Sentences 23,2,2,i quoted by T. C. 
Appendix 4 "Belief's Act" ST Vol. 31,207. 

6. Thomas Aquinas, De Veritate XIV 1 ad 5 quoted by O'Brien, 
"Belief's Act", 214. 

7. ST 2a2ae, 45 , 1 ad 1 . 

8. Persson, 28. 

9 . ST. la 79, ad 2. 

10. ST la 80, 2 ad 1 . 

11. Yves M.J.Congar, A History of Theology (Garden City: Doubleday, 
1968)93. 

12. Congar, 94. 

13. Congar, 205. 

14. Congar, I Believe in the Holy Spirit , Vol II (New York: Seabury 
Press, 1983) , 137. 

15. Congar, 136. 

16. Congar, 136. 

17. William J. Hill, The Three-Personed God (Washington: Cathol ic 
University Press, 1982) 258. 

18. Thomas Aquinas, On the Power of God , trans. English Dominican 
Fathers (Westminster: Newman Press, 1952) VII 5 ad 14. 

19. Josef Pieper, The Four Cardinal Virtues (Notre Dame: Notre Dame 
Press, 1965) 38. 

20. ST la 1, ad 7 footnote k. 

21. Thomas Gilby, Appendix 5 "Sacra Doctrina", in Vol 1 ST , 58-59. 

22. P. Grelot, Interpreting the Scriptures (New York: Desclee 
Co. ,1969) 211. 

23. Liam Walsh, O.P., "Dominican Study and the Experience of God" 
in Dominican Monastic Search , November 1984, 56. 

24. Simon Tugwell, O.P. from talks given at Our Lady of Grace 
Monastery, N. Guilford, CT , July 1985. 

25. Jordan Aumann , Appendix 3 "Contemplation" in Vol. 46, ST., 103. 



no 



26. T. C. O'Brien, Appendix 3 "Faith and the Truth about God" in 
Vol . 31, ST 204. 

27. Thomas R. Heath, Appendix 4 "The Gift of Wisdom" in Vol. 35, 
ST , 201. 

28. Heath, 200. 

29. Thomas Gilby, Appendix 10 "The Dialectic of Love in The Summa" 
in Vol . 1 ST, 129. 

30. Pieper, 39. 

31. Pieper, 39-40. 

32. Heath, 201. 




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Ill 

THEOLOGICAL STUDY IN THE LIFE OF DOMINICAN CONTEMPLATIVE NUNS 

Sister Mary of the Trinity, O.P. 
Farmington Hills, MI 



The insertion of study as an observance into the 1987 
Constitutions challenges individuals, monasteries, and Conferences 
or Federations to take up theological study in a serious and 
disciplined way. The U.S. Conference has responded by initiating 
a Theological Study Formation Program for the newer members of the 
monasteries. It is as a participant that I offer this reflection. 
It grew out of an assignment in which we were asked to reflect on 
the importance of theological study in the life of Dominican 
contemplative nuns. The plan of the paper is (1) to interpret the 
terms "theological study" and "Dominican contemplative nun"; (2) to 
indicate the convergence and divergence between contemplation and 
theology; (3) to demonstrate the importance of theological study as 
a constitutive element in Oie life of the nuns. 

Theological Study 

The word theology comes from the Greek theos, God, and logos, 
thought or speech. Theology one might say is thinking and 
conversing about God. What are the limits of theological 
discourse? This could of course be researched and developed at 
length but for the purpose of this paper perhaps I may suggest two 
inter-related questions. In most contemporary Catholic theology 
one reflects on (1) human experience in the light of (2) the 
sources of faith. In this approach tradition mediates meaning." 

When contemporary theologians reflect on human experience in 
the light of tradition, what develops is not a theology but a 
multiplicity of diverse theologies. Theological pluralism is not, 
Fr. Hill suggests, a pluralism of beliefs, because one faith 
assures a continuity or cohesion in the theological endeavor. He 
comments : 

Such theological pluralism seems irreversible and 
irremedial (sic), and moreover is one that crosses 
confessional lines. Its deepest source is awareness of 
the finitude of all human knowing. I f on the one hand it 
has opened the way to bewilderment, producing a crisis of 
theological identity making constructive theology 
difficult, on the other it recalls to theology that its 



* F. E. Peters, Greek Philosophical Terms , (New York: New York 
University Press, 1967), pp.110, 194. 

William Hill, O.P., "Theology," The New Dictionary of 
Theology, J. A. Komonchak, ed. (Delaware: Michael Gl azier , Inc . , 
1987), p. 1012. 



112 



goal remains mystery that is incomprehensible and 
ineffable . 



What is it about theology that allows it to put one in touch 
with Mystery? Is it the texts which enshrine the Christian 
experience? Is it what these texts seek to mediate: the deepest 
questions of the human heart? Or is it simply the finitude of the 
human acts of knowing and loving that brings us face to face with 
our need for the Infinite? Another author speaks of how knowing 
and loving open one to -Mystery. 

In every act of knowing and loving I am restlessly 
striving beyond my present situation toward a horizon 
which I can never reach but which is inescapably present 
to me.... Can I content myself with limited areas of 
knowledge and choice or^do I allow myself to be open to 
Mystery, which is always present to me but which I t-~. 
never manipulate or control. 

Perhaps it is the questions that theology goes after that 
bring one to a meeting with the ineffable and incomprehensible. 
Eric Voegelin writing about "Question and Mystery" in The Ecumenic 
Age says : "The Question [the Question capitalized is not a question 
concerning the nature of this or that object in the eternal world 
but a structure inherent to the experience of reality] is not just 
any question but the quest concerning the mysterious ground of all 
Being." 5 

Theology might be thought of as a meeting place for mind and 
heart. The heart's reasons bear on the activity of the mind and 
likewise the mind's reasons bear on the heart. Perhaps theology is 
at its best when one is brought into a wondering awe in the 
presence of Mystery and seeks to articulate the experience 
intelligently. Theological discourse stretches one beyond the 
narrative and symbolic expression of the primary sources of the 
faith into the realm (sometimes called a realm of theory) wherein 
one seeks to objectify and communicate some aspect of Mystery 
within one's contemporary culture. 



3 Ibid. , p. 1017. 



4 John O'Donnell, S.J., "Faith," The New Dictionary o f 
Theolog y, p. 37 5. 

5 Eric Voegelin, The Ecumenic Age (Baton Rouge: Louisiana 
State University Press, 1974), p. 320. 



113 



Dominican Contemplatives Nuns 

A Dominican nun is first of all a Christian woman who 
through her baptism has accepted the challenge to live out Jesus' 
twofold commandment of love. Being a Dominican contemplative means 
further that she chooses to live out her commitment in a specific 
and radical way, namely by withdrawal from the world, and sharing 
in a common life which is dedicated to prayer, study and work. 
Nuns are primarily remember - ers . Dominican monastic life gives 
primacy to remembering and pondering the Word of God. In the 
chapter of the Constitutions entitled "Hearing, Studying, and 
Keeping the Word of God" the nuns are reminded: "The purpose of all 
regular observance, especially enclosure and silence, is that the 
Word of God may dwell abundantly in the Monastery." This chapter 
highlights two observances in which Word comes to dwell in the 
cloister: lectio divina and study. 

In the practice of lectio the nuns follow an ancient monastic 
practice in imitation of their founder, St. Dominic. It was said 
of Dominic that he always had the Scriptures close at hand and 
passed easily from meditatio to oratio and from oratio to 
con temp 



easily 
latio. 7 



In reading the section on study in the current Constitutions 
one sees that study is meant to be formative in the life of the 
nuns . 

It [study] not only nourishes contemplation, but also removes 
the impediments which arise through ignorance and informs the 
practical judgment. In this way it fosters the fulfillment of 
the evangelical counsels with a more enlightened fidelity and 
encourages unanimity of mind. By its very constancy and 
difficulty it constitutes a form of asceticism and aids mental 
equilibrium. 

The Constitutions indicate that suitable time needs to be 
provided for study and libraries kept well supplied and up to date. 
It is also suggested that the prioress arrange for lectures and 
conferences to help promote study in the community. 

In summary, a Dominican contemplative nun is a woman whose 
"whole life is harmoniously ordered to preserving the continual 



6 L.C.M. #96, II. 



i 

The Nine ways of Prayer of Saint Dominic , edited and 

translated by Simon Tugwell O.P. (Dublin: Dominican 

Publications, 1987 ) pp. 42-44. 

8 L.C.M. # 100, II . 



114 



Q 

remembrance of God." And, she remembers God's presence primarily 
through the observances of lectio and study. Conviction of the 
primacy of these observances has grown out of the opportunity and 
challenge of serious daily study for participants in the Conference 
Theological Study Formation Program. It seems that lectio and 
study serve our remembering in direct proportion to the 
disciplined effort made toward their observance. 



Theology and Contemplation 

Before attempting to show the relationship between theology 
and contemplation, the meaning of the latter needs to be set out. 
Contemplation not only tends to be an ambiguous term but in some 
quarters it also carries with it rather esoteric connotations. The 
following is a brief indication of what is intended here by the 
term contemplation. ^ 

The early Greek Fathers of the Church borrowed the word 
theoria from the Neoplatonists in an effort to explain the 
Christian mystery. . For the Neoplatonists theoria was the 
highest activity of those seeking wisdom; it was an intellectual 
vision of truth. The Fathers added to theoria the meaning of the 
Hebrew term da'ath, which is a kind of experiential knowledge which 
comes through love. The Fachers' expanded meaning for theoria was 
translated into Latin as contemplatio. Near the end of the sixth 
century Gregory the Great summed up the tradition by describing 
contemplation as a knowledge of God that is impregnated with love. 

In the monastic tradition contemplation came to be viewed as 
the full flowering of the practice of lectio. One begins in 
meditatio, moves or is moved to oratio and comes to rest in 
contemplatio, a formless, imageless resting in God. In the 
stillness of contemplation one no longer actively seeks but the 
mind and heart come to rest in what they have desired. - ' 
Contemplation is then simply a resting in Truth that is beyond word 
or image. 

Lectio begins in a meditative reflection upon some source of 
faith and ends in contemplation. The study of theology parallels 
lectio in that it also begins in a reflection upon the sources of 
faith and ends in contemplation. For is not the moment in which 
one comes to know a moment of grasping real ity without words or 



9 L.C.M. # 74, IV. 

10 Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O., Finding Grace at the Center 
(Massachusetts: St. Bede Publications, 1978) pp. 33-36. 

11 Ibid. p. 37. 



115 



images; an act of contemplation, a resting in what is ? To express 
one's contemplation, of course, one falls back upon images or words 
to help mediate one's knowing. 

If contemplation and theology begin and end in the same place 
is there a distinction between them? In lectio one begins with 
images, words, and moves toward relinquishing them to rest in God. 
In theology one works at staying with the thinking, understanding, 
judging, deciding in the hope of coming to know reality. And, one 
often seeks to "objectify and universalize one's contemplation in 
order to communicate one's knowledge to another." 

Another way of saying the difference between theology and 
contemplation might be to say that in prayer we are turned toward 
God as lovers and loving becomes a way of knowing, while in study 
we are turned toward God as knowers and knowing becomes a way of 
loving. ^ 

Theological Study as Constitutive of the 
Life of Dominican Contemplative Nuns 

Is the study of theology part of the monastic tradition? The 
case for theology in the life of monks and nuns from the beginnings 
of monasticism is presented with great erudition by Jean Leclercq 
in his book The Love of Learning and the Desire for God. In the 
chapter entitled "Monastic Theology" he traces theology in monastic 
life backs to its roots and makes a strong case for the existence 
of theological study in the monasteries.*' 

The current Constitutions (1987) indicate that those in 
formation should be instructed in Sacred Scripture, liturgy, church 
history, the history of spirituality and of the Order, dogmatic and 
moral theology. And, in the section on study or on-going 
formation for the community the Constitutions recommend that the 
nuns nourish their faith on the mystical teaching of the Fathers, 
St. Thomas, and other theologians and authors.* 3 

In a religious Order which celebrates truth, it seems that an 
openness to the gifts of mind and heart would be essential for 
understanding and communicating truth. Fr. Bernard Lonergan 
suggests: " Religious experience at its root is experience of an 



11 

Thomas Philippe O.P., The Contemplative Life (New York: 

Crossroads Pub., 1990) p. 92. 

Jean Leclercq O.S.B., The Lo v e of Learning and the Desire 
for God (New York: Fordham University Press, 1961), Chapter 9. 

14 L.C.M. # 119, II . 

15 L.C.M. # 101, III . 



116 



unconditional and unrestricted being in love. But, what we are in 
love with, remains something we have to find out." And, is it 
not study, culminating in contemplation, that brings one to the 
moment of the question: What is it that I am in love with? 

Further light is shed on the mind/heart connection in an 
article by Fr. Liam Walsh in which he speaks about a mystical 
movement in study. He says: "What happens is that study begins to 
bring us to the point of total renunciation of ideas and images." 1 
The relinquishing of forms and images in lectio moves toward 
surrender of the heart-, while total renunciation of ideas and 
images in study moves toward surrender of the mind. It is an 
integrated process which first requires the development and 
flowering of the gifts of mind and heart. Fr. Walsh goes on to 
say : 

The really profound students have come to realize through 
their study that the truest, ideas are the ones which are 
almost negative, the most fragile ones, those which almost 
disappear. The great metaphysical ideas are couched in the 
thinnest, most transparent terms .... Study itself brings one to 
the point of realizing that one must eventually say 'no' to 
knowledge, not in the sense of discounting it and putting it 
aside, but because reality is far beyond it. 

Serious study for nuns, in light of these remarks, would need to be 
more than an extra tucked into an already packed day. Is it not 
both a challenge and an opportunity for a total gift of oneself to 
God? 



If one pf the main reasons for studying theology is to become 
intelligent conversants in God-talk, the question arises, how does 
this really fit into a life given over to so much silence, 
solitude, and prayer? 

First, one might suggest that there are those nuns who will 
find it necessary and will be driven to "objectify and universalize 
their contemplation" even if only to themselves. And this, it 
seems, will require learning 'God-talk,' the language of 
theology. Someone in the Study Program commented that theological 



*' Bernard J. F. Lonergan, S.J., Philosophy of God and Theology 
(London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1973), p. 51. 

17 Liam Walsh, O.P., "Dominican Study and the Experience of 
God," A lecture given at the 1984 General Assembly of the U.S. 
Conference of Dominican Nuns and printed in Vol . 3 of Monastic 
Search. 

18 Ibid. p. 63. 



117 



study is something like learning a foreign language especially in 
the beginning when you need to build up a vocabulary just to start 
to get the gist of what is being discussed. 

Second, the Constitutions state in the article on Common Life: 
"Provision should be made for conversation on doctrinal or 
spiritual life. These may be held at determined times either in 
groups or between two nuns." If nuns are encouraged to converse 
with one another on doctrinal or spiritual matters surely as 
Dominicans we would look for these to be as intelligent as possible 
and out of a theologically enlightened viewpoint. 

Third, since the nuns have re-captured much of the monastic 
tradition formerly lost to them for several centuries (sacred study 
being part of that retrieval), there arises the need to pass on 
this tradition. This would call for theologically articulate 
formators to impart this re-newe^d tradition in a coherent and 
intelligent way to new members. 

Fourth, it seems Dominic in founding an Order of Nuns ana 
Friars intended some kind of continuing conversation between these 
two branches as a means of mutual encouragement and support. 
Fr. Walsh commenting on this relationship suggests: 

The working out of that relationship involves a sharing 
in each others' concerns and an ability to hold conversation 
with each other. I believe that if the nuns are to relate to 
their brothers who are actively engaged in the ministry of 
preaching, in a way that Dominic wanted that to happen, they 
need to understand the kind of questions with which they have 
to deal and the kind of answers which they have to offer m 
their preaching. I believe that before the nuns can carry 
their preaching brethren in their hearts they have to carry 
them also in their minds. 



Fifth, Jean Leclercq states that one of the reasons theolog} 
was done in the monasteries was because of the existence of an 



13 



20 



L.C.M. # 6, II. 



Liam Walsh, O.P., op . cit . p. 59. As pertinent examples. I 
recall a meeting in our monastery between some of the students in 
the Study Program and a visiting Friar to talk about the philosophy 
(his field) course we had just completed, and the chance for a 
profitable conversation with Fr. William Hill about his book The 
Three Personed God , at the House of Studies this past summer. 
These conversations could not have taken place without the 
opportunity for serious study launched by the Conference Study 
Program. 



118 



audience. Nuns do write letters, receive visitors, and some nuns 
publ ish. 

In considering how theological study fits into the life of the 
nuns, it is instructive to consider the lived experience. In a life 
where one is likely to experience many "desert" or "dark" times and 
one has no outward apostolate to capture one's imagination and 
expend energy on, the study of theology, as Constitution #100, II 
suggests, is a necessary aid to human maturity and mental 
equilibrium. Thomas Philippe says it this way: 

The support given by theology is nothing in comparison 
with that which the Holy Spirit can give us interiorly 
through love. But when the Spirit is silent, this 
presentation of the doctrines of faith can sometimes be 
a help. 21 

-\ 
One of the most interesting descriptions or explanations of 
those "desert, silent, or dark times" is found in the writings of 
Jan Ruusbroec in his description of the inner life of the Trinity 
as the "Common Life." Ruusbroec describes the movement within the 
Trinity as a movement from silence to speech then back into 
silence, then again into speech and so on and so forth. The 
silence is the Father, a darkness, a moment of rest; the movement 
into speech or manifestation is the Word, a light, a moment of 
work. The Trinity moves back and forth in a constant ebb and flow 
from silence to speech from speech to silence in an unending ebb 
and flow. Perhaps one might think of this movement, the ebbing and 
flowing, as the Spirit. 

Ruusbroec suggests that the Christian life is an invitation to 
become caught up with the Word in the ebb and flow from silence to 
speech, darkness to light, rest to work in a unending movement in 
which one is caught up in the eternal ebb and flow of the 
Trinity. 22 

If Ruusbroec's description is on the mark then perhaps the 
life of the nuns might be a place in which theological study as a 
regular observance might indeed fall easily into this inner divine 
rhythm because of the constant movement between lectio/contempla- 
tion and theology/contemplation. Perhaps one finds an example of 
being caught up in this Trinitarian movement in the lives of some 
of the early Fathers of the Church. For it seems they theologized 
because they contemplated and they contemplated because they 
theologized. Contemplation leads into theology and theology back 
into contemplation in a constant ebb and flow. 



21 Philippe, Ibid. p. 95. 

22 Louis Dupre, The Common Life (New York: Crossroads, 1984) 



pp. 26-27. 



119 



Lastly, in writing on affectivity in Thomas Aauinas ' s 
spirituality, Fr. Walter Principe reminds his readers that love in 
Thomas's spirituality is always guided by knowledge and wisdom. He 
says : 

His [Aquinas's] spirituality is a spirituality of the Word as 
well as of the Holy Spirit of Love. For Thomas, loving 
friendship with God should result from the mind's eager 
pursuit of wisdom. Thus he [Thomas] says: 

The study of wisdom is very sublime because through it we 
especially reach a likeness to God, who made all things 
in wisdom [Ps 103(104) : 24] . So, because love is caused 
by likeness, the study of wisdom especially joins us with 
God in friendship, which is why Wis 7:14 says that wisdom 
is an infinite treasure for human beings; those who us.e 
it become sharers in friendship with God (ScGen 1.2.).*"' 

The mind's eager pursuit of wisdom through the study of 
theology is, it seems, a privileged moment of contemplation, and an 
appropriate endeavor for the nuns of the Order whose lives are 
totally given over to knowing/ 1 oving God. 



23 Walter Principe, C.S.B., "Affectivity and the Heart in 
Thomas Aquinas' Spirituality," Spiritualities of the Heart , ed. 
Annice Callahan, R. S.C.J. (New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1990), p. 59. 



120 



THE WORK OF THE MASTER 'S HAND 
Letters and Vision of Fr . Damian Byrne, P.P. 



Sr. Mary Regina, O.P. 
Farmington Hills, MI 

Who is Damian Byrne, O.P.? We all know his credentials: 
born in Ireland, Dominican missionary to Argentina, Vicar of 
Religious in Trinidad, Provincial and gentle arbitrator in 
Mexico, Provincial to his Dominican Family in Ireland, and then 
in 1983, out of the elective Chapter of Rome, Master of the 
Order of Preachers. 

Has he been a Magister Ordinis who sweeps a third of the 
Dominican stars with his tail? Hardly. His clear identity 
throughout his nine years as Master, and certainly the dominant 
tone of his letters, is that of a brother. He has exercised his 
authority and expression not by macho demands, but by lived 
experience, by study and reflection on the life of the Order, 
past, present, future. He does this in the light of St. 
Dominic's charism, as he said in his letter on Evangelization to 
the Chapter of Quezon City, "What lies before us at this time 
is a challenge to become what St. Dominic had begun: a family 
joined in unity of life and complementarity of service to the 
Church and to the world." 

The general manner of Fr . Damian Byrne's letters to the 
Order, while mild and not without a measure of Irish 
pensiveness, are straightforward, direct. His interested 
composure balances his relaxed yet head-on approach to the 
details of Dominican life. He projects a keen sensitivity to 
the individual and collective needs and exigencies of the entire 
Order. 

Further, his letters evidence a thorough study and personal 
grasp of the Acts of General Chapters, past and present. He 
recalls quite frequently those of the Avila Chapter, of Bogota, 
Oakland, River Forest, Rome, Walderberg, Quezon City. These are 
like a revolving table that continually returns to the reader's 
attention. References are also made to the Primitive 
Constitutions, and, of course, to LCO. All this is like a kind 
of university learning-ground where he pockets away the 
necessary tools to assist the Order in the implementation of our 
decisions on preaching, Dominican life in common, collaboration, 
the four priorities, the frontiers, formation, evangelization, 
prayer and reflection. When it comes to study, he pulls the 
anchor up and rolls out to sea as stress and measure are applied 
to theological and philosophical study, as well as the study of 
the problems of our time. 



121 



In his letters to the Order, Fr. Byrne rivets to the 
ecclesial just as fast-firm as Dominic. The very foundation 
stones of these letters are based on the teachings of Vatican II 
and post-conciliar documents. The magnificant statement on the 
mission of the Order, the oxygen and life of the entire notion 
of frontiers, the very breath and wind of the letter on 
evangelization is the result of the same "open window" that 
ushered in "Lumen Gentium" and "Gaudium et Spes." Fr . Byrne's 
going with the flow of the Church has rhyme and reason: "St. 
Dominic created the Dominican Family, not for itself, but to be 
at the service of the Church in its mission to the world." 

We would expect a Damian Byrne, 0. P., to employ the term 
"mission to the world." His own personal key that unlocks the 
door to the missionary work of the Order can only be Paul VI 's 
apostolic exhortation, "Evangelii Nuntiandi." His contemplation 
is closeted here, and he shares the fruit of this prayer in 
every letter. Yet his attitude is not confined to me and mine. 
"Mission on the frontiers," he writes, "calls from us an 
attitude of deep compassion for people, especially those on the 
fringes of the human community." 

His written statement on our Dominican common life is 
presented in the light of all that has been traditionally 
understood, but examined also under the insights of Vatican II 
and the statements of our recent General Chapters. Structures 
need to be consistent with the structures of the Church. Our 
prayer, faith sharing, study, fraternal correction, vows, 
decision-making, and community building receive thorough-going 
and creative treatment. 

Our brother, Damian Byrne, views obedience in terms of 
listening to each other in community. He knows the truth of his 
sharing here. He himself has listened. As we have seen, he has 
listened to the voices of the past, of the Order, of the 
Church. He listens to the contemporary voices: Fernandez, 
Congar, de Couesnongle, you and me. Yet his vision of obedience 
extends beyond the individual one-on-one response. "We must 
have the strength to accept the obedience which decision-making 
imposes on us." 

Two complementary letters, "The Challenge of Evangelization 
Today," and "The Ministry of Preaching," have particular impact 
since they address the very core of our purpose and calling. We 
are reminded of Dominic's three-fold method of evangelization. 
He preached in poverty on the apostolic mode. His method was 
itinerancy, apostolic mobility. He put himself under tne 
obedience of the Church. Fr . Byrne quotes Paul VI: "The 
Dominican Order would undoubtedly sin against itself if it 
turned a'way from this missionary duty." He further cites 
William of Montferrat, who stated, "Dominic was filled with a 
greater zeal for the salvation of all than anyone else I have 



122 



ever met. " 

In addition to searching for new methods of evangelization, 
we must also be keenly aware of inculturation. "Wherever 
Christianity exists it is incarnate in a culture." Fr. 
Byrne announces the need for an international approach to the 
work of evangelization. As is typical, he places our effort of 
inculturation in its proper setting in that it is an "ecclesial 
search. n 

We are designated and branded preachers. "St. Dominic 
wanted his Order to be called Preachers. This is the title he 
chose for himself and his companions, the title granted by the 
Church. It determined not only his mission but his entire way 
of life. While many are called to preach, there is a need for 
an Order of Preachers to remind the Church of its preaching 
mission." Fr. Byrne states the above while acknowledging that 
our preaching is first delivered through the witness of our 
lives. He insists that every member of the Order participates 
in this preaching mission. "It is precisely here, through the 
witness of their lives, that our contemplative sisters are at 
the heart of our preaching family." 

The credible witness of every Dominican comes from reading, 
pondering and living the word of Scripture. It is primarily the 
witness of Jesus we seek to assume and preach. Further, this 
proclamation must be prophetic and doctrinal. And while Fr. 
Byrne emphasizes "word and sacrament" with regard to preaching 
in a liturgical context, he restates the role of Dominican women 
in the foremost charism of the Order: "I urge Dominican 
sisters, both active and cloistered, to take advantage of every 
opportunity to preach which is open to them and in accordance 
with the circumstances of their lives." 

Damian Byrne, a master preacher, knows what he states when 
he writes about preaching as our identity, when he gathers up 
notions of hope from the Gospel. "Our job is to proclaim the 
hope of the Gospel more frequently and preach to the limit of 
our vision even though we do not fully embody that vision. Like 
Dominic we are not prophets of doom or misfortune. Like Jesus, 
he did not announce bad news. He announced good news. He was a 
prophet of hope." 

Our brother Damian penned a marvelous document on 
collaboration in the Dominican Family: "In Collaboration 
Together." This letter was written originally as an address to 
Dominican women superiors as they gathered in Rome, May 17, 
1991. The absolute sincerity of the sentiments of this work is 
testified by so many letters prior to this one, encouraging 
collaboration among the members of the Order. When he writes on 
preaching, evangelization, formation, you name it, he 
unfailingly promotes collaboration. 



123 



Fr . Byrne knows how to strike at the core of his topic. In 
this letter on collaboration, he states, "I believe that it is 
only when we accept each other as equals that we can collaborate 
effectively together in ministry. This is the only basis for 
collaboration." Joint efforts are proposed in ministery of 
the word, in retreats, formation, promoting vocations, and in 
works such as justice and peace. And what does it take? Here's 
his formula: adaptation, acceptance, time, recognition of a 
different approach, respect for one another's space, rhythm and 
implementation. He wisely finishes this list off with: "Beware 
of competition." 

Formation, like collaboration, enters into almost every one 
of Fr. Byrne's letters in one form or another. Culled and 
stacked together and placed with the two major letters on the 
subject, they would reveal a thorough study. And while invited 
to focus on the new members in their fomration, we are reminded 
that for every Dominican, formation is a life-long process. 
Those who enter should be assisted toward the development of 
independence, decision-making, and normal relationships. Their 
foundation must be human, religious, intellectual and pastoral. 
The Dominican community, he says, should stand as a "Sancta 
Praedicatio" for those in formation, so that they may see the 
link between our study and our preaching. 

Fr . Byrne's vision for the future is mapped out well in his 
letter on study. We are reminded that study was emphasized 
throughout the Primitive Constitutions, and even to this day it 
forms the preacher for the work of salvation. As St. Thomas 
picked up his intellectual tools to weed out and cultivate, so 
are we to uphold and purssue the theology of the goodness of 
creation and reject dualism. The soil for study is nourished by 
encouragement, atmosphere, a rhythm of life, personal devotion, 
discipline, dedication, personal endeavour, perseverance, 
application, investigation, critical reflection, and the 
greatest of these, says Byrne, is critical reflection. He 
indicates that critical reflection and theological reflection 
are close kin cousins. Those engaged in this discipline and 
prayer may admit they merge into one. 

Fr . Damian quotes Gilbert of Tournai , "We will never 
discover the truth if we are content with what we have 
discovered. The writers who went before us are not our masters 
but our guides." Fr. Damian Byrne guides us ever forward. 
We are not to grapple with the problems of the past that have 
been proved, but with the problems of the present that need 
investigation under the light of the Gospel. We stand atop the 
mountain with this man who sees its other side. All that our 
Brother, Damian Byrne, has written is full of truth. With him 
we follow the truth, the message of the Gospel, into the future. 



124 



NOTES 

1. I.D.I. , #259 9. ibid. 

2. I.D.I. , #289 10. ibid. 

3. I.D.I. , #238 11. I.D.I. , #269 

4. I.D.I. , #262 12. I.D.I. , #298 

5. I.D.I. , #259 13. ibid. 

6. ibid. 14. I.D.I. , #296 

7. ibid. 15. I.D.I. , #130 

8. I.D.I. , #269 16. ibid. 



125 



JOURNEY TO XMTXMACY 

Sr. Mary of the Sacred Heart, O.P. 
West Springfield 

The spiritual journey to intimacy with God begins with a 
divine attraction inviting us to new horizons. Our guide leads 
us beyond familiar and comfortable plains up a high mountain 
where he nourishes us with the food of the Word for our journey. 
It is an adventuresome journey of trust and dependence not with- 
out cost but yielding a priceless relationship. 

Every journey has a point of departure. In order to move 
ahead one must leave something or someone behind. Every newly 
married couple in a sense must leave behind father and mother 
and move on to a new life with his/her spouse. 

Relationships begin when two individuals meet or are intro- 
duced. In the divine romance God is the one taking the initia- 
tive. He appeared to Moses in a burning bush that was not con- 
sumed by fire and in so doing captured his attention. Moses 
approached, being drawn by something beyond his comprehension. 
He left the sheep and sought the Shepherd of Israel. He began a 
journey from "knowing about" God, to "knowing" him and 
ultimately speaking to him as friend to friend. 

In his gospel St. Matthew portrays Jesus as a new Moses on 
a new mountain, giving a new law. And yet Jesus, the Word made 
Flesh, is far greater than Moses. The Israelites, being struck 
with fear, could not draw near to God. On the contrary, the Son 
of God, like a divine magnet, instills men and women with trust 
and confidence and draws them up the Mount of Beatitudes. 

The first to be called and drawn were Peter and Andrew as 
they were casting a net into the sea. That £^cQtc oirt<r<j uov : 
"Come on behind me..." (Mt. 4:19) was so irresistible that 
immediately leaving their nets, they followed him. That moment 
in time in which they heard the voice of the Word calling them 
became their departure point. They embarked on their journey 
to intimacy instantly, without provisions, and leaving behind 
all that they had hitherto depended upon. This "casting off" of 
the familiar for the "yet to be" was the beginning of their 
transformation from fishermen to disciples, from professionals 
to students. From the experience of this encounter their lives 
would never be the same. 

So, too, for James and John, who not only left their nets 
but also "abandoned ship" and father. The call to intimacy 
demands an immediate, wholehearted response at all costs. 

The word for "follow", <xKo\o<J (? Lu) , means not only to follow 
but to follow as a disciple, to imitate. They followed Jesus, 
the Way of Life, who would teach them a new way of living. 



126 



Moses went up Mt . Horeb to receive the law from God that he 
in turn might give it to the Israelites. Jesus leads his disci- 
ples up the Mount of Beatitudes and teaches them with authority. 
Jesus goes beyond the Mosaic code and takes us straight to God. 

Atop the Mount of Beatitudes between heaven and earth, at 
the heart of the Sermon on the Mount we find Jesus teaching his 
disciples about prayer. What is prayer? For Adam it was enjoy- 
ing God's presence while walking with him in the garden of Eden 
in the cool of the evening; it was listening to God and speaking 
to him. For the psalmist it was crying out to God with mind, 
heart and emotions. We are "hard put" to find a definition of 
prayer in the scriptures but the scriptures are filled with peo- 
ple praying to God. It is almost as natural as breathing. 

God's utterance of "The Ten Words" 1 , the Ten Commandments, 
in the Old Testament were for the most part prohibitions: "You 
shall not..." It is interesting to note that Jesus' instruction 
on prayer begins with a plural future of prohibition, OUK. z<rt<r$i ; 
"And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites" 
(Mt. 6:5) . 

Three times a day, at 9 A.M., noon and 3 P.M., the Jew 
would daily say the Shemoneh 'esreh, the "Eighteen" prayers, 
wherever he happened to be. Thus one could arrange to be on the 
street corner or top step of the synagogue, etc., while standing 
with hands stretched out, palms upward and head bowed. 2 It was 
easy for the hypocrites to be seen as they made a display of 
prayer. And indeed Jesus tells us their purpose was that they 
might be seen by men. Their prayer could hardly be called 
prayer. "When a man begins to think more of how he is praying 
than of what he is praying, his prayer dies upon his lips." 3 
Jesus using the present tense, a progressive of description 
here, tells us that the hypocrites with their commercial mental- 
ity "are receiving their reward" (Mt. 6:5). It is as a receipt, 
"Paid in full!". 4 

Jesus, being practical and constructive, speaks in the 
singular as he addresses each one of his disciples. His use of 
the singular personal pronoun <rv , you, and its placement at the 
very beginning of the sentence give it emphasis and make it 
clear that he is speaking to each one personally and to all. 
"But when YOU pray, go into your room and having closed your 
door, pray to your Father who is in that secret (place)..." 
(Mt. 6:6) . 

Here we have the seed of true prayer planted in the heart. 
Basically, Jesus is saying : Go into your bedroom, where no one 
will see or disturb you. There pray to your (singular pronoun) 
Father, who is in heaven and your (singular) Father, who sees in 
secret will reward you. We see here a relationship: father and 
child. This personal relationship and dialogue is itself a 
reward. 9 



127 



This particular verse in the Greek can be translated in 
various ways due to the use of the article T u-» as a relative 
pronoun with an elliptical verb and the substantival use of the 
adjective ko vttt^j with its article as a demonstrative pronoun: 
"..and pray to your Father, who (is) in that secret (place)..." 
(Mt. 6:6) . 

"But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and 
pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who 
sees in secret will reward you" (RSV) . 

"But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you 
have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that 
secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in 
secret will reward you" (JB) . 

"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and 
when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is 
in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall 
reward thee openly" (KJV) . 

"But when you pray, go into your own room, shut your door 
and pray to your father privately. Your Father who sees 
all private things will reward you" ( Phillips Modern 
English ) . 

"But when you pray, go away by yourself, all alone, and 
shut the door behind you and pray to your Father secretly, 
and your Father, who knows your secrets will reward you" 
( Living Bible ) . 6 

Of the translations examined, I found the Revised Standard 
Version to be the best translation and the Jerusalem Bible close 
behind. The King James Version has tried to express the emphatic 
YOU at the beginning by making it vocative and has added 
"openly" at the end of the verse, which is clearly not in the 
Greek. The Phillips Modern English is poor in translating 
K/> V TV T t£) as an adverb and again as accusative rather than 
locative. The Living Bible is a very poor translation if it can 
even be called such. 

After instructing the disciples where to pray, Jesus N then 
teaches them how not to pray. Here we find the main verb pq 
flcu-rTa,\oyr\<rr)T£ in the second person plural aorist subjunctive 
with the negative and translated as "don't ever babble..." (Mt. 
6:7). These Gentiles imagine they will be heard by means of 
their much speaking or wordiness. Again using the aorist sub- 
junctive of prohibition, Jesus continues: "Don't ever become 
like them..." (Mt. 6:8). Of the six versions I examined, none 
clearly conveys the idea of a prohibition of an action not yet 
begun. The Living Bible totally omitted the phrase! 

The "magical" prayer of the babblers is an imaginary 



128 



attempt to manipulate gods, who are not. 7 Jesus puts prayer on 
a Father - child relationship. "Your (plural) Father knows what 
you need before you ask him" (Mt. 6:8). 

At the summit of the Mount and at the heart of the sermon, 
Jesus, our Lawgiver, leads us beyond the mountain to heaven 
itself as he instructs us how to pray. 8 By calling God "Father" 
we find ourselves in a relationship with him. By calling him 
"Our Father," our relationship reaches not only upward, but 
establishes us as brothers and sisters with the privileges and 
responsibilities of family members. 

The Lord's Prayer is so familiar to us Christians that we 
can say it routinely with our lips without realizing what we are 
saying. Studying the Greek text can make it come alive and give 
us a greater appreciation of what we are actually saying. 

The first three petitions are prayers for the glory of God 
and all three begin with an aorist imperative verb. Since it is 
an imperative of request or entreaty, i.e., of a subordinate to 
a superior, child to father, it is fitting that "please" be used 
in the translation because it most effectively conveys the mean- 
ing. "Please let your name be reverenced" (Mt. 6:9) or "treated 
as holy" conveys a respectful petition full of desire. Some- 
thing is lost when "please" is omitted. "May your name be 
hallowed" (Mt. 6:9) has a wishful tone and is weak in expressing 
a strong personal desire. For the Semitic the "name" was syn- 
onymous for the person. 9 St. Cyprian says: "It is not that we 
think to make God holy by our prayer; rather we are asking God 
that his name may be made holy in us. Indeed, how could God be 
made holy, he who is the source of holiness?" 10 John Meier 
points out that this is a theological passive. 11 God is the 
agent. We are asking God to enable us to give him the rever- 
ence he deserves and demands as our heavenly Father. 

"Please let your kingdom come; please let your will be 
done" (Mt. 6:10) is a parallelism. It was used by the Hebrews 
to say the same thing in two ways. 12 Luke does not have this 
repetition or added explanation, while Matthew "explains that 
the kingdom means the will of God on earth". 13 God's kingdom is 
a society upon earth where God's will is as perfectly done as it 
is in heaven. "The Kingdom demands the submission of my will, 
my heart, my life. It is only when each one of us makes his 
personal decision and submission that the kingdom comes... (We) 
pray that we may submit our wills entirely to the will of 
God." 14 

Our journey to intimacy will take us down the Mount of 
Beatitudes to the Garden of Gethsemani. Here Jesus' prayer ends 
with a conditional. "If this (cup) cannot pass unless I drink 
it, please let your will be done" (Mt. 26:42). This last 
clause is exactly as it is in the Our Father: words, their 
order, tense and even accent marks. Clearly Jesus' prayer is 



129 



not simply one of resignation but an imperative entreaty made in 
love and trust, sure of God's love and wisdom. 

Let us turn now to the petition for forgiveness, which 
Jesus reinforces at the end of the prayer itself. Like the 
aforementioned petitions, the verb, aorist imperative of 
entreaty, holds prominence at the beginning of the sentence; 
however, it is second person rather than third. "Please forgive 
us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Mt. 6:12). 
In praying thus we give God a comparative measuring stick as it 
were in the word u>s : "as we also have f orgiven. . . " (Mt . 6:12). 

Here "our discipleship is put to the test again and again, 
and endless forgiving does not come easy" 13 Jesus, himself, 
leads the way and preaches by example from the pulpit of the 
cross. Luke gives us Jesus' first words from the cross, using 
aorist imperative of entreaty: "Father, please forgive them..." 
(Lk. 23:34). He uses the imperfect tense ( £X£.y£V ) showing con- 
tinued or repeated action. Thus we translate: "Jesus kept say- 
ing: 'Father, please forgive them...'" (Lk. 23:34). 

"To be forgiven we must forgive, and that is a condition of 
forgiveness which only the power of Christ can enable us to ful- 
fill." 16 "We have a responsibility to imitate God, to follow 
his lead in forgiving." 17 

Speaking of forgiveness and it being a prerogative of God, 
Gregory of Nyssa concludes: "If therefore a man imitates in his 
own life the characteristics of the Divine Nature, he becomes 
somehow that which he visibly imitates." 19 Is that not where 
the journey to intimacy leads? Transformation into Christ or as 
the mystic would say: to become "another Himself"! For that 
brings us full circle in the journey to intimacy. Jesus, who 
came forth from the Father, catches us in the divine embrace and 
takes us with and in him to the Father through the Spirit. "To 
fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances, to seek 
him the greatest adventure and to find him the greatest human 
achievement . M1 9 

ENDNOTES 



1. Alexander Jones, God's Living Word (Glen Rock: Paulist 
Press, 1965), 18. 

2. William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume 1. 
(Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975), 197. 

3. loc. cit. 



4. John P. Meier, Matthew (Wilmington, Delaware: Michael 
Glazier, Inc., 1980), 58. 



130 



5. Meier, 59. 

6. The Six Version Parallel New Testament (Carol Stream, 
IL: Creation House, 1974), 14-15. 

7. Walter R Roehrs, Martin H. Franzmann, Concordia Self- 
Study Commentary (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1979), 
21. 

8. Hilda C. Graef, St. Gregory of Nyssa (New York: Newman 
Press, 1954) , 35. 

9. Barclay, 205. 

10. The Liturgy of the Hours Vol. 3. (New York: Catholic 
Book Publishing Co., 1975), 363. 

11. Meier, 60. 

12. Barclay, 211. 

13. Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. 
Murphy, eds . , The New Jerome Biblical Commentary . (Englewood 
Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1990), 645. 

14. Barclay, 212. 

15. Roehrs, N.T. 21. 

16. Barclay, 224. 

17. Brown, 645. 

18. Graef, 71. 

19. St. Augustine 



131 



MY EYES ARE EVER TOWARDS THE LORD 

A look at the expression of the vows 
according to Blessed Jordan of Saxony 



Sr . Mary Catharine of Jesus 
Summit 

"From the day when you proposed in your mind to seek: 
and search out how you should leave wholly behind you not 
only your own kinsfolk and possessions but even your own 
self you became most lovable to the Lord" (Vann 152). 

The words are those of Bl . Jordan of Saxony, second 
Master of the Dominican Order. Although written sometime 
near the beginning of the thirteenth century, they carry a 
movement of joy and an ageless spirit which make them as 
applicable to us as to the Benedictine nun they were 
originally addressed to by Jordan. 

Jordan's unique spirit, a spirit of joy thrusting 
upwards to God, has seized the minds and hearts of 
Dominicans for generations—but especially of the Nuns of 
the Order. 

What is it that makes Jordan so timeless, so 
attractive? Why is it that his message is as relevant 
now as it was almost 800 years ago? 

Perhaps more than anyone else, Jordan captured the 
kernel, the heart of the evangelical counsels, allowing them 
to give life, to foster a living spirit of love. By not 
getting bogged down by externals but living always with a 
motive of love, Jordan's leitmotif, "My eyes are ever 
towards the Lord" (Ps 25), inspired him as a true son of St. 
Dominic to share this with others. Fortunately for us, 
Jordan's ideals and love for evangelical life have been kept 
alive through his many letters. 

Surprisingly, Jordan writes very little on the 
vows themselves. Once one realizes, however, that 
"the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience were 
not systematized, theologically and canonically, until around 
the end of the twelfth century" (Laurentin 42), it is clear 
that for Jordan these vows were only the beginning, the 
springboard. What is important is being imbued with their 
spirit and growing in Love through them. It is the goal, 
that of "turning towards the Lord", that is of 
ultimate" importance. 



132 



Obedience--The Sign of Unity 



In the approximately fifty-six extant letters of Bl. 
Jordan only one reference is made to the vow of obedience 
itself. One gets the idea that obedience was not the 
stumbling block for them as it is for us. One must also 
remember that the social system of Jordan's time was such 
that almost everyone was part of the feudal system--that of 
lord and serf, and of lord and vassal. 

The custom of lord and serf was almost that of 
slavery. One was born into serfdom, and a serf and his 
children were bound to the land and service to the lord. It 
is interesting that until the latter part of the middle ages 
the lord lived, worked and ate with his serfs (perhaps where 
we got the idea of first among equals?) mitigating to a 
great extent his autocratic power. 

But the most distinctive form of medieval lordship was 
that of feudalism (from the Latin, f eudam meaning fief). 
In exchange for a grant of land or for services a man would 
place himself under the lord's protection as his "man" 
or vassal. This in turn created what was called a feudal 
bond characterized by several symbolic acts. 

The first of these was homage, the process by which 
the man knelt and placed his hands between those 
of his lord, so putting himself at the lord's dis- 
posal and under his protection. (Encyclopedia 
Britannica 18:713). 

The other two external acts were the oath of fealty, 
and the investure by which the lord handed over some token 
of the fief to his new "man". Only by knowing the milieu , 
the customs of Dominic and Jordan's times can we understand 
why Jordan wrote in describing obedience: 

"Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord--the joy of that 
Lord to whom in particular you have sworn fealty, 
the Order of Preachers" (Vann 80). 

For Jordan this exhortation was not merely poetic 
license but a reflection of the reality of his times. In 
entering the Order, a person placed herself at its service, 
establishing a very personal bond with the Order as the way 
of accepting the authority of the superior. 

This in turn explains how the "oath of fealty" differed 
from the other Orders of the time, namely the Benedictines. 
It did resemble that of Cluny but with one major difference: 
while the monks of Cluny and its daughterhouses made their 
profession to the Abbot of Cluny only and not to his 
delegates, (they were very particular about this), Jordan was 
concerned only that the profession be made (Mandonnet 303). 



133 



Those sisters who ought to have taken their vows 
by now may safely do so in the hands of the 
Prioress or of the Prior of our convent there or 
one of the Provincials acting in my name; and this 
will give me as much joy as if they were making 
their profession in my own hands, nor must they 
ever feel any misgivings about this procedure 
(Vann 110) . 

Also intimately- tied in with obedience was the now 
famous trademark of Dominican law--that of dispensation. 
This was highly valued by Jordan and he had very strong 
words about it to the Prior-provincial, Br. Stephen, who had 
questioned a decision of the preceeding General Chapter: 

As for other matters: if anyone supposes that I 
have not the power of dispensation with regard to 
the Order's regulations, that seems to be the same 
as saying that the office of Master General was 
never committed to me. Nothing in the 
constitutions, however grave, is to be regarded as 
being beyond my power to dispense with if I think 
fit to do so in view of special needs of times, places 
and persons, except for the three laws which, at the 
last Chapter of Paris (1228), were so firmly 
established as not to allow of either revocation 
or dispensation. . . . ( 144) . 

This letter more than any of the others shows 
not only his brilliance and capabilities but also his great 
humility. He had no confusion about what was expected of 
him or of how he should carry out the office of Master 
General . 

Poverty — The Expression 

For Jordan, poverty was the foundation and expression 
of both an interior and exterior living of the evangelical 
counsels. As is well known, in the beginnings of the Order 
poverty was the unique mark of the friar causing the 
Franciscans and Dominicans to disagree on the extent and 
manner of its expression. For the Franciscan poverty was 
the ideal, but for the Dominican poverty was only one of the 
means towards the goal--contemplation and the salvation of 
souls . 

For Jordan, while exterior poverty was not only 
necessary but also something to strive for, it was the 
interior poverty of spirit that he was most concerned about: 



134 



But what am I saying? Is it really poverty that 
you have chosen? Rather it is poverty that you 
have thrown aside and riches you have chosen; for 
the poverty of Christ is willed poverty, that 
poverty of spirit which gives you the kingdom of 
heaven ( 70 ) . 

And in this same letter to Diana, Jordan goes on to 
link the ideal of poverty not with "the Son of Man has 
nowhere to lay His head" (Mt 8:20 RSV), but with "No one 
has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's 
friends"(Jn 15:13). It is the poverty of this self -emptying 
that becomes perfect love and Jordan with all the charm of 
his times calls this love "flawless gold" (70). 

Poverty was not simply the renunciation of goods. It 
was deeper than that: it was a way of life. This was 
particularly to be expressed in the poverty of community 
life lived in unity in the Lord. 

The thought of you all rejoices my heart, beloved 
daughters, since I know how eagerly, in unity 
together, you walk with the Lord, seeking nothing 
save Him in whom alone is your sufficiency and 
without whom all possessions must be not wealth 
but penury. And Him you possess more completely, 
the more completely you give yourselves to Him, 
withdrawing yourselves in body and mind alike from 
this present world so as to belong to your 
Bridegroom alone. . . . ( 106) . 

One cannot but be attracted and filled with enthusiasm 
at Jordan's joyous embracing of this poverty filled with 
Christ's love. "Poverty, humility, love are words for him 
which mean, even on earth, richness and joy and fullness of 
life" (44). Joy in Christ was the continuous theme in 
Jordan's life. 



Chastity -- The Undivided Heart 

He calls Diana his daughter in loving awe of the 
Father, his sister by adoption in the Son, his beloved in 
the love of the Holy Spirit and his companion in the 
religious life. Even with our twentieth century mentality 
it is enough to warrant a second look and the raising of a 
few eyebrows. These terms of affection startle us; it 
does not fit in with our expectations of "holy" people, 
especially priests and nuns in the thirteenth century. 



135 



But for all our apprehensions, Jordan and 
Diana's relationship, a relationship in which each is 
constantly urged closer to God, warms our hearts. "This is 
how it should be", we think. 

"There is another word that I send you, small and 
brief: my love, which will speak for me to your love in your 
heart and will content it. May this word too be yours, and 
likewise dwell with you forever" (112). 

After years of chastity meaning rigidity, coldness and 
the lack of affection, it is encouraging to discover its 
original meaning in the early days of the Order. 

It is in regard to chastity more than any of the other 
vows that Jordan's eyes are ever towards the Lord. As with 
the other two counsels, Jordan expresses concern that it be 
total and interior and that there be moderation in the 
ascetical practices connected with chastity: 

For, as I have often warned you, bodily exercise 
is profitable to little, and in vigils and fastings 
and tears the due measure is easily exceeded; but 
virtue-humility and patience, kindness and 
obedience, charity also and sobriety- can never 
grow to excess (103). 

And in yet another letter: 

"For as I have often warned you and shall warn you 

again: in vigils, in fasting, in tears too, it is easy to 

fall into excess; but virtue can never grow to excess" 
(116). 

True to the developing Dominican charism, Jordan's 
concern was not so much that faults be rooted out but that 
the nuns grow in virtue. 

Repeatedly, Jordan reminds Diana and her community whom 
they love and by whom they are possessed. Christ is always 
their Bridegroom. 

"You have contemned the kingdom of this world and all 
its pomps for the love of Jesus Christ your beloved 
Bridegroom" (70) . 

"Let the loving thought of your Br idegroom be constantly 
in your -minds; let there be purity of heart " (73). 

Contrary to the ideas of the Catharists, Jordan insisted that 
there also be reverence and respect for the body precisely 
because it was the temple of the Holy Spirit (thus the need 
for moderation). 



136 



"The temple of God is holy, and you are that temple; 
nor is there any doubt but that the Lord is in His holy 
temple, dwelling within you" (79). 

And finally there is also the now famous solicitous 
concern for Diana's injured foot: 

"Your poor foot, which I hear you have hurt, hurts me 
too; and makes me the more anxious that you should take more 
care not only of your foot but of your whole body" (135). 

But while Jordan repeatedly pointed out the goal to the 

nuns-that of union with God-in his practical way he also 

knew that there would be times of loneliness and even 
discouragement : 

"Find comfort in the only begotten Son of God, your 

Bridegroom, in whose presence we shall again see our 

friends, and in whom and before whom we shall rejoice, as 

they that rejoice in the harvest" (89). 

And again: 

"Be confident and gay; and what is lacking to you 
because I cannot be with you, make up for in the company of 
a better friend, your Bridegroom Jesus Christ whom you may 
have more constantly with you in spirit and truth" (109) . 

Conclusion 

I hope in a small way I have been able to share with 
you what I think were Jordan's ideas on evangelical life. In 
ending I close with words that I think he would say to us if 
he lived today: 

"Again I say to you: do not be afraid; I will be to you 
a father, and you shall be to me a daughter and the bride of 
Christ Jesus" (69) . 

Works Cited 

"Fealty". The New Encyclopaedia Britannica . 
15th ed. 1990 

Laurentin, Rene. The Meaning of Consecration Today : A 
Marian Model For A Secularized Age . Trans. 
Kenneth D. Whitehead. San Francisco: Ignatius, 
1991. 

Mandonnet, OP, Pierre. St . Dominic and His Work . 

Trans. Sr . Mary Benedicta Larkin, OP. St. Louis: 
B. Herder, 1948. 

Vann, OP, Gerald. To Heaven With Diana ! . New York: 
Pantheon, 1960. 




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137 



A NEVER FADING VISION 



Sister Mary Emmanuel, O.P. 
West Springfield, MA 

Out of the 1992 General Assembly of the Dominican Nuns a 
whole new web of relationships and experiences will be formed. 
The theme chosen, "Reclaiming the Dominican Vision for the 
Twenty-first Century," makes us reflect upon the roots of our 
communities. Each community's story tells its faith- journey . 

From what we know of contemplative communities, one can 
readily say that one common and vibrant incentive in attaining 
holiness was, and is, devotion to Saint Joseph, the foster- 
father of Jesus. Saint Joseph is acknowledged as the 
protector of the universal Church, guardian of virgins, patron 
of Christian families and patron of the interior life. As 
early as the seventeenth century, Saint Joseph was honored in 
the liturgy of the Church. In later centuries, the Church 
began to give more notice to him whom the Gospels call "a just 
man," 1 and the faithful found solace in paying him the homage 
due to him. 

We read in the Gospel how Saint Joseph fulfilled his 
task as God's trusted steward. His entrance into the plan of 
salvation was indirect, yet still of great importance. Though 
aware that he was the head of the household, yet he served 
Mary and the boy Jesus. By God's direct choice, he was the 
protector and witness of the virginal motherhood of Mary, the 
child's legal father, and the head of the Holy Family. The 
name the child would bear was first entrusted to Joseph. It 
was his privileged duty to assist in the education of Jesus, 
Wisdom Incarnate. When the message of the Incarnation was 
given to Joseph in the command to "take Mary as your wife, for 
that which is to be born of her is of the Holy Spirit," 2 he 
embraced the duties of fatherhood with peace and gentleness. 
The choice of Joseph as father fulfilled the prophecy that the 
Messiah would be of the royal lineage of David. Through this 
text we see that Saint Joseph is drawn into the divine plan 
and history of salvation. His role is unique and divinely 
appointed. 

In their little village of Nazareth, Joseph and Jesus 
attended a Friday evening service composed of blessings and 
prayers which introduced the faithful into the sacred world of 
the Sabbath. On the platform in that village synagogue stands 
an adult and a child. The child repeats "in a treble voice 
some rrtual chants intoned by the adult who seems to be his 
teacher, submitting him to a kind of test. The teacher, using 
a pointer, guides the child in reading the inspired lines 



138 



written on the scroll. The boy frames his chanting of the 
Sabbatical lessons with ritual blessings, and he practices the 
reading of the Law." 3 This same procedure is repeated every 
Friday for a child who is preparing himself for BAR-MITZVAH. 
The "teacher may be the rabbi or the synagogue cantor. In 
this particular case, the teacher may even be Joseph, the 
father of the neophyte Jesus." 4 

By our vocation we are being called to be guardians of a 
holy, precious gift: God's grace in us and about us. Like 
Saint Joseph, our Constitutions stand beside us as our teacher 
and guide, instructing us that "to presevere faithfully and 
courageously in continence, the nuns cultivate close communion 
with God through intimate friendship with Christ in all the 
circumstances of life. They should nourish this with the 
Sacred Scriptures and the Eucharist, and strengthen it by 
loving devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God." 5 

Saint Joseph, director, friend and protector of souls 
who aim at perfection, pray for us. 6 

Joseph and Mary, as the Gospels relate, were people of 
little means, but they were filled with Jewish spirituality. 
Being a devout man, Saint Joseph found in the Law and word of 
God something reliable. For him the service of God was not a 
matter of pious feelings, but a matter of faithfulness in the 
service of God. Every Sabbath, in their village of Nazareth, 
Jesus accompanied Joseph to the synagogue. Jesus watched as 
Joseph donned his prayer shawl and whispered the prayer of 
sanctif ication. Then Joseph uncovered his head, laid the 
shawl over his shoulders, and "said the first blessing which 
marks his participation in the Saturday morning service. As 
Jesus watched Joseph carry out these traditional gestures, 
speaking words directly inspired by God, he realized that the 
humble village carpenter is exercising his priestly dignity." 7 
What an awe-inspiring sight! It is a crucial moment; Jesus 
has entered into the timeless realm of prayer. The Gospels 
also relate for us that it was Joseph's custom to go "to 
Jerusalem every year for the Passover festival," 8 showing 
us what was the most important element in his life. In 
silence and loyalty he served the God of the Covenant. 

Saint Teresa of Avila often said that she had never 
asked a favor from Saint Joseph without obtaining it. And she 
exhorted her Carmelite daughters to ask the gift of prayer 
from him, who had been so familiar with Jesus and Mary. After 
the example of the Saints, "our whole life is harmoniously 
ordered to preserving the continual remembrance of God. By 
the celebration of Eucharist and the Divine Office, by reading 
and meditation on the Sacred Scriptures, by private prayer, 
vigils and intercessions we strive to have the same mind as 



139 



Christ Jesus. In silence and stillness we earnestly seek the 
face of the Lord and never cease earnestly seek the face of 
the Lord and never cease making intercession with the God of 
our salvation that all men and women might be saved." 9 

Saint Joseph, whose life was one perpetual prayer and 
contemplation, pray for us. 10 

In the Litany of the Saints, Saint Joseph's name is 
invoked after that of Saint John the Baptist and even before 
the names of the Apostles and Patriarchs. The patron of 
workers is not Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life,, 
but his foster-father Saint Joseph. Our Redeemer is the son 
of a carpenter. By divine decree Joseph was given custody of 
the living bread from heaven. He was so attuned to God in his 
mind that he perceived the message of the angel even in his 
sleep. Saint Joseph sought always to do the Father's will. 
This is where true Christian glory lies. And in this way did 
the carpenter of Nazareth contribute to the establishment of 
the reign of God, of which Jesus, the carpenter's Son, was the 
founder and King. The Holy Family, that first religious 
community, was united in justice, peace and love; each doing 
from the heart the Father's will and content and happy to 
serve God in this way. Modelling our lives on this first holy 
community, we likewise become a leaven "to reconcile all 
things in Christ." 11 Our Constitutions assure us that, "since 
obedience binds us to Christ and the Church, the labor and 
renunciation which it entails continue Christ's self-offering 
and take on the character of sacrifice both for ourselves and 
for the Church, in whose fulfillment the whole work of 
creation is being accomplished." 12 

Saint Joseph, perfect model of the interior life, pray 
for us. 13 

I would like to end this with a quote from a poem 
written by a Passionist, Father Augustine Paul Hennessy, who 
used to reside at their monastery in West Springfield. I do 
not have the complete poem, so an introduction to the setting 
is appropriate. Father Augustine Paul, C.P., addresses a 
number of Saints by each one's characteristic gift and then, 
in just a few short lines, extols the Saint's talented use of 
this gift in God's service. Of Saint Joseph, Father writes: 

Joseph of the tool chest, 

have you no pride? 

Why, yes! God kissed me 

on the lips every night, 

when he was just a little child. 14 



140 



Notes 

1. Mt. 1:19. 

2. Mt. 1:20. 

3. Robert Aron, The Jewish Jesus (Orbis Books, Maryknoll, 

NY, 1971) , p. 47. 

4. ibid . 

5. LCM, #26, S — I, p. 41. 

6. Litany of St. Joseph. The original source is not known. 
It is believed to have been a translation from the French 
by our foundress, Mother Mary Hyacinth of Jesus 
Fitzgerald, O.P. 

7. Aron, pp. 75-76. 

8. Lk. 2:41 

9. LCM, #74, S-IV, p. 52. 

10. Litany of St. Joseph. 

11. 2 Cor. 5:18. 

12. LCM, #19, S-II, 38. 

13. Litany of St. Joseph. 

14. Father Augustine Paul Hennessy, C.P. 



141 
GOD WHO REVEALS HIMSELF 

Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart, O.P. 
Menlo Park, CA 

In his Letter af -rcmuiQatian of ;ne P r o D r 1 urn *cr ire 
Dominican Office. Fr. Vincent ae Couesnongle refers to the Vatican 
Council document Dei /erdum. ana says that "our T ai:n. as weil as 
nur apostolic activity ana all our tneoioaical stuav draw js to a 
run ana f r^e aanerence to the Goa w n o revea Is Himself"- 1 -. 
Tnerefore. it seems aood to ask. "How coes Goa reveai Himself in 
cur Divine Office -1 " 

The first ana most obvious revelation is His Real Presence 

in the Blessed Sacrament. Most Religious do not nave this privilege 
of His Bodily Presence exoosea for adoration as they Dray the 
Divine Office. As children gathered arouna their fattier, or as 
'.oval subjects celeoratina with their K.ina. so we have the nonor of 
worshiDDina "coram Sane t issimo " , in the presence of the Host Mian. 

Bcriature is tne word of God. Jesus is the uJora of God. 
Therefore, wnen we near Scr xpture reaa . it is God revealina 
Himself. God s wara is a love letter which He has addressed to ME 
personally. In the Liturgy He says to me. "I have somethina to say 
to you".- And I should be all ears to hear the messaae He is 
graciously giving to me. 

But there are many things which get in my way so that I do not 
hear well. One occupational hazard is that I have heard these words 
so often that I am too familiar with them: I know them by heart: 
thev no longer catch my attention. I have to learn to listen 
carefully for a nuance which I have not heard before, or for a new 
depth of meaning that I missed last month when they were reaa. 

Another problem is that some texts seem so obscure, dull, or 
obviously aimed at someboay else. "I never did get anything out of 
that text" is often my excuse for paying little attention. But He 
is saying it to ME today. He has a message there for ME. I must 
listen and ask Him to make known in my heart what He is trying to 
sav to me. 

Then there is the perennial problem of my wandering mind. Even 
if I am thinking about the Office in general. I am often thinkina 
about what comes next, or how I will sing or say some other element 
which is the part assigned to me. This is the same weakness I have 
wnen another Sister speaks to me. Instead of listening to her. 
rea 1 1 y listening, I am thinking of what I will say in resaonse. 
Lord, teach me to be aware of You soeaking to me. help me to 
listen, really LISTEN to You in the Liturgy, and to let this 
listening attitude overflow into my encounters with my Sisters in 
Commun i ty . 

Another way that God reveals Himself in our Liturgy is in tne 
Community. He has told us that "Where two or three are gathered 
in My Name, there I am in the midst of them".- Certainly, we ar& 
gathered in His Name. The Church is the Body of Christ and where 
the Body is. there the Head is. too. If only I could SEE Him in our 
midst, it would certainly increase my fervor . But my Faith assures 
me of His presence and I need to remind myself of it freauentlv. He 
is in our midst to pray with us. He will lead us in worship of tne 



142 



Father. He prays on our behalf and in our stead. When we make a 
mess of it. He prays. "Father, forgive them; for they do not know 
what they are doing"."* His prayer makes up for the lukewarmness of 
ours . 

The prayer of Jesus is a fascinating mystery. "He spent the 
whole night in prayer to God " . s How wonderful it would be to be 
able to listen in on that loving dialogue of Jesus with His Father. 
But very likely, being human and needing human words and sentiments 
to express Himself, He used the words of the psalms which He had 
learned so well that they sprang to His lips to express any 
thoughts and emotions that He was experiencing. 

Jesus also prayed frequently in the Temple, as did all good 
Jews. This was a ceremonial Liturgy just as ours is. He knows from 
experience the feel of human beings worshiping God together as a 
group. He chanted the Hal lei and other psalms with His family, 
friends and disciples, and listened to the reading of the Prophets. 
He attended the Morning and Evening sacrifices and the annual 
celebrations. Liturgy had a big place in His life and He wants to 
celebrate with us. 

It is also in the Community that the Holy Spirit reveals 
Himself. He is the source of all unity, and so when we blend our 
voices in praise and petition, it is the Spirit who brings about 
this oneness in the Lord. 

God reveals Himself in the Sister reading or singing. He 

has chosen to use her as an instrument to send me a message. Each 
of us in our turn as reader or singer can pray, "Lord, make me a 
channel of Your Word". There are times when I don't care for the 
channel the Lord has chosen to convey His waters of wisdom in my 
direction. When He says, "I want to give you a drink of health- 
giving liqueur from this chalice", I sometimes turn aside with 
something like, "No, thanks. Lord. I'll find a drink somewhere 
else". With that I turn off my hearing and run ahead in the 
Breviary or turn to a more interesting passage. 

But whether she is a good reader or singer or a poor one. He 
is IN her and is using her for the moment to bring His word to me 
to reveal Himself. Even if she is hard to understand, if she 
mispronounces words or mumbles, I should still make the effort to 
listen. Surely I can get something from what she is saying. The 
very effort I make can open me to hear a new meaning in the few 
words I do get. The very fact of her mispronouncing a word may oe 
His way of nudging me, calling my attention to that part which 
holds His message for me today. And if I am really listening and 
thinking about what she is saying or singing, I will not be so 
likely to come in too soon and cut off her words before she has 
quite finished her syllable. 

Finally God reveals Himself in my own person. I have the 
privilege of being part of that marvelous prayer of Jesus by 
joining my voice with His. If only I could hear Him 1 Then I would 
make real efforts to blend my voice with His, to keep with Him even 
when His speed or pitch doesn't seem quite right. I believe that He 
is in me and I am in Him. He uses my vocal cords to praise His 
Father. He uses my body to worship with inclinations and gestures. 



143 



He uses my mind to probe the meaning of the Scriptures. He uses my 
emotions to feel the joy, sadness, hope, love, fear, delight, oain 
and frustration of His people in all times and places. The Angels 
themselves don't have that privilege. They can sing w ith Him. Put 
I have Him singing and pravinp in me. 

If I could see and hear You, Lord, I would Pe less likely to 
drag my feet in arriving, to make sloppy ceremonies, to Pe lazy ana 
listless in using my voice to oraise you. Strengthen my Faith to 
make me eager, enthusiastic and fervent in this Opus Dei, this work 
of God . 



i. Vincent de Couesnongle, Q.P. Supplement to the Liturgy of the 
Hours for the Order of Preachers ( Chi cago : Domin 1 can Liturgical 
Commission, U.S.A., 1991) p. XIII 

2. Luke 7:40 

3. Matthew 18:20 

4. Luke 23:34 

5. Luke 6: 12 




144 



The following essay is the condensed form of an article originally published in the September, 1991, issue 
of Religious Life Review. 



ContemyCative 'ReCiQious '"Women: The American Situation 

Twenty- five years Later 

Sister Mary of the Precious Blood, OP 
Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary 
Buffalo, New York 

How have communities of contemplative women in America borne the challenges of renewal since the 
close of the Second Vatican Council? Have the adaptations initiated by the process of renewal altered 
the way contemplatives interpret their vocation? Finding answers to these questions presents no small 
difficulty. The subject proves a complex and delicate area to explore primarily because renewal is an 
on-going process and opinions vary widely as to what constitutes authentic adaptation and what should 
be viewed as infidelity to the contemplative ideal. We do possess certain norms, however, that may 
serve as starting points in examining the ways in which contemplative women understand their role in the 
Church at present. Among these are the four elements specified in Perfectae Caritatis no. 7 as those 
that should particularly characterize contemplative life: solitude, silence, an attitude of constant prayer 
and voluntary penance. Within the framwork of these four elements, I would like to discuss some of the 
effects of renewal on contemplative women in contemporary American society. 

The responses to a survey conducted in 1988 among the existing federations and conferences of nuns 
regarding their needs and concerns proved an invaluable source of information while preparing this article. 1 
I have tried to integrate the data obtained from this survey with that I researched by means of 
correspondence with members from among the nearly two hundred communities of contemplative 
religious women in this country. To safeguard the personal nature of the responses, I have not quoted 
directly from either the survey or the letters received from nuns, but have relied upon statements drawn 
from source books, public lecture notes and pamphlets published by the above-mentioned associations to 
reinforce my comments. 

ConternpCdtive Life as Seen By the CounciC 

The opening lines of Perfectae Caritatis no.7 present a pattern for renewal of the religious life modeled 
on that already present in the early Christian Church. In placing special emphasis on solitude (particularly 
the observance of enclosure in the case of nuns), silence, a spirit readily disposed for prayer and penance, 
the decree bids us return to the spirit wNch animated the first monks and nuns who sought a spiritual 
rebirth through the love of God and confrontation with the false self. The Church's vision of renewal 
centers on the deepening of the individual's relationship with Cod and stresses for contemplative religious 
a total and exclusive concentration on Him. Constant prayer, acts of self-sacrifice, solitude and silence all 
contribute to this spiritual renewal. 



145 



Perfectae Caritatis invites contemplative religious to eliminate from their lives what no longer facilitates 
the fullest realization of their vocation, and to weigh those observances proper to their life according to 
the principles and criteria specified in the document. In sum, these amount to the following of Christ as 
illustrated in the Gospel, a return to the spirit of the founder or foundress of the institute, and a more 
vital participation of religious in the concerns and needs of the whole Church with a more enlightened 
understanding of social conditions in the modem world. The work of renewal confronting contemplative 
communities engages these issues. Much of the disagreement over changes in religious practices stems 
from differing interpretations of these essential criteria. 

IncCosure 

The interpretation of the observance of enclosure appears to generate the widest diversity of opinion 
The members of communities of religious women dedicated to the contemplative life are generally bound 
by papal enclosure, whose norms the Holy See itself approves and regulates. In addition to the guidelines 
issued in PC, the Congregation for Religious in 1969 published the document Vervte Seorsum, which 
provides a detailed program for enclosure in monasteries of nuns. According to the 1988 survey and my 
own research, one can identify three fundamental attitudes toward enclosure. First, some respondents 
tend to view the limited interaction with non-community members necessitated by enclosure legislation as 
an obstacle to the realization of the Christian and contemplative ideal. A second group values a more 
restricted physical withdrawal, yet maintains a wish to interact openly with non-community members 
when legitimate opportunities arise. Finally, a third group opts for a strict interpretation of the laws of 
enclosure, with little or no interaction with those outside their community. 

For those religious who share the first of these three views, a sincere and deeply felt need exists to share 
their experience of Cod with the men and women who approach their monasteries seeking spiritual 
direction or requesting prayers for personal intentions. While they understand the need for solitude and 
withdrawal, the nuns who opt for a broader interpretation of enclosure view whatever contacts they 
have with non-community members as part of a positive and authentic implementation of the Church's 
directives. This sentiment finds an echo in two excerpts from a paper delivered at the June, 1989, 
meeting of Carmelite Communities Associated by one of the participating nuns: 

Many women of genuine prayer today are responding to a compelling, inner, 
spiritual urgency that necessitates, for its fulfillment, a totally different concept 
of "cloister" or "strict enclosure," with its binding force. The new emphasis on 
sharing the fnits and riches of the contemplative life more broadly and concrete- 
ly bases itself far more on the Gospel of Jesus Christ than on Canon Law... 
The primacy of contemplative prayer in our lives has overflowed in such a way 
that sisters so attracted can give time to spiritual direction or companioning, 
occasional talks, meeting with prayer groups.. .When this is renewing/energizing 
for the [sister], it is renewing/energizing for the community*. 

Thus, the nuns in this first group favor a less restricted, more liberal interpretation of enclosure in an 
attempt to follow Christ's example more closely. 



146 



Looking at cloister from a slightly different perpsective, those religious who form the second group desire 
to preserve the structures and practices traditionally associated with papal enclosure, but with 
modifications. Most of the respondents within this group have chosen to maintain some form of physical 
separation from visitors and friends without, perhaps, relying on the use of grilles and turns. They believe 
the occasional use of television, radio and secular newspapers to be an acceptable means of staying 
informed of current events, as PC no. 2d recommends. These nuns only leave the enclosure to obtain 
medical treatment or to conduct necessary business, although they generally do approve of the 
attendance of their sisters at meetings aimed at deepening their appreciation of the contemplative 
vocation 

In contrast to the foregoing interpretations, the nuns who form the third group interpret enclosure in a 
"strict" manner, with few or no modifications of the traditional practices of their respective orders. These 
religious display the same joyful spirit in living out the commitment of the enclosure as the respondents in 
the other two groups, although they limit their interaction with non-community members to an absolute 
minimum. They present themselves as individuals who enjoy great freedom of heart, whose spiritual 
embrace encompasses the world insofar as they withdraw from the cares and preoccupations of secular 
society. An excerpt from a pamphlet published by the Poor Clare Federation of Mary Immaculate 
articulates this point of view: 

Vente Seorsum does not treat only of concepts of withdrawal and the 
spiritual exodus common to Christianity in any of its lifestyles, but of 
actually withdrawing into solitude to lead a particular type of life. The 
instruction asks superiors to bear in mind that the purity and fervor of the 
cloistered life depends to a great extent on the strict observance of the 
rules of enclosure"...Cloister is not the dominant note, but the supporting one. 
It is the very good servant— we would say the indispensible servant-of the 
canonical contemplative life. For those called to it, cloister is not a burden 
but a precious gift of God and Church. 3 



Despite the obvious differences of outlook concerning the observance of enclosure, all respondents 
fundamentally agree that it does not represent an end in itself. Without exception, the contemplative 
women whom I contacted believe that they must focus their vocation on union with Cod. They value 
enclosure insofar as it serves to deepen their awareness of the Lord's love for them and for all 
humankind. 



SiCence 

Enclosure and silence are integrally connected in the contemplative life. Withdrawal, in fact, aims at 
providing an atmosphere that excludes to a great extent the ordinary business and concerns of secular 
society, making silence and prayerful recollection easier to achieve. 



147 



Following the tradition of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, most of the founders and foundresses of the 
contemplative orders looked upon silence as the guardian of all monastic observance; they taught that 
the limitation or suppression of speech fosters control of memory and the imagination, thus freeing the 
mind to dwell on Cod. All contemplative religious seem to value the observance of silence as an 
efficacious means of promoting spiritual growth. 

As nuns reflected upon the importance of silence in their life, however, they realized that control of the 
spoken word does not automatically or necessarily lead to interior silence. For example, without suitable 
spiritual formation and some insight into the dynamics of human psychology, those who lead a life of 
rigorous exterior silence have occasionally found themselves repressing or denying emotions that might find 
normal expression in properly regulated speech. Not a few contemplative religious thus comment on the 
need to maintain a balance between silence and speaking. As one nun points out, 

Silence...is not a negative element or the mere absence of words and sounds. 
Speech, in itself, is a positive value intended by the Creator as a vehicle of 
authentic human communication expressive of charity, unity, truth and the 
fostering of the noble quality and purpose of human life...But our experience 
tells us that speech has been abused and has become a source of falsehood, 
division and strife. This misuse requires a penitiential effort to restore it to 
its intended purpose. By the practice of silence we learn to use speech for 
the sake of truth and love, not for the sake of self-assertion, ambition 
or exploitation. 4 

Yet finding the balance between silence and speech proves difficult. Beyond the talking required by the 
ordinary flow of community life, the post-conciliar years provided many opportunities for contemplative 
women to speak as they came together at meetings to discuss the renewal of their life according to the 
Council's requirements. The up-dating of constitutions and directories necessitated regularly-held chapter 
discussions within most monasteries. Lectures and classes on theological and scriptural topics became 
more frequent, and most contempltive communities of women permitted the introduction of 
conversations among the nuns as a means of promoting their spiritual and psychological development. 

Confronted with more occasions to speak at present than in the past, a number of nuns indicate that the 
individual herself must assume more responsibility for the observance of silence. Legislation can be and 
often is invoked to safeguard exterior silence, but these religious believe they can best meet the 
challenges imposed by renewal by means of mature judgment and self-discernment. Accordingly, each 
nun should assume greater responsibility to safeguard the spirit of recollection within her monastery and 
her own sod. Most contemplative religious appear to welcome the emphasis placed on personal 
responsibility concerning the observance of silence as a healthy shift in outlook from an attitude often 
characterized by a rather narrow and rigid legalism. In the Christian life, interior liberty should mark an 
individual's growth toward union with Cod; as His love supplants fear, the need for religious formalism 
declines. 

JA Spirit HeadiCy Disposed for Tenance 



148 



The importance of asceticism in the contemplative life cannot be understood outside the context of 
Christ's own example: those who aspire to follow Him more closely must be prepared to lose their lives 
in order to find life in the Lord. The Council stressed the need for religious to reflect upon the role of 
penance in their life in light of the Gospel's call to conversion and purity of heart, urging them to 
eliminate those forms of penance judged unsuitable or harmful to their physical or psychological health 

There seems to be little disaggreement among contemplatives concerning the need for asceticism in their 
life, but opinions differ regarding the manner in which they should carry out penitential practices. The 
nuns with whom I corresponded repeatedly commented on the fact that before the recent changes 
ushered in by the Council, external penances were incorporated into their daily life without individual, 
personal need or capacity being sufficiently taken into consideration. Such indiscriminately applied 
practices often led to a negative understanding or even a rejection of the intrinsic worth and dignity of 
the human body. The delicate interconnection between body and soul in the growth of the whole 
human person toward God was at times overlooked or even denied. 

In seeking to revitalize the contemplative life through the practice of asceticism, most communities favor 
the unspectacular, hidden forms of penance, those that promote self-discipline and the spirit of 
self-donation for the common good and check the desire to control or judge others. Traditional monastic 
penances thus continue to hold an important place, fasting and abstaining from meat or other types of 
food, night-rising for prayer, wearing the monastic habit and generously living out the common life 
according to the approved customs of the particular monastery. 

In whatever form it takes, contemplative women esteem the practice of asceticism as a means of 
opening themselves as completely as possible to the action of grace. Interpreted in this way, penance 
serves as a fruitful preparation for prayer. 

Trayer 

It seems fairly apparent from their replies that the process of renewal has not altered contemplative 
women's understanding of the role and significance of prayer in their life. Intimate, uninterrupted 
communion with God remains the ultimate concern, the cherished ideal of their existence. To be sure, all 
do not receive the grace to know God in the obscure, quasi-experiential manner of contemplation. 
Nevertheless, the changes instituted by the Council, especially as regards the liturgy and the impetus given 
to ecumenism in the post-conciliar Church, could not but influence and in some measure alter the way 
nuns pray. 

Encouraged by the breadth and flexibility of the revised Liturgy, many contemplatives said they felt 
impelled to explore a less structured way of prayer, often seeking and obtaining permission to experiment 
with different liturgical settings. Customs such as reading prepared communal meditations aloud and the 
imposing of assigned spiritual reading gradually fell away in most monasteries of women in this country as 
a less formal approach to prayer began to develop. Several communities observed that the new liturgical 
rite, with its numerous options and the ability to be adapted to various cultures, allows for greater liberty 
of spirit in worship. They find the revised Liturgy-shortened, simplified and prayed in the 
vernacular-offers those who use it the opportunity to internalize more of what they recite. 



149 



To some extent an increased appreciation of world religions also influenced the way nuns pray. Dialogue 
between the Catholic Church and non-Catholic religions offered contemplative women the chance to 
learn about and experience prayer in the Eastern tradition, often resulting in a deeper appreciation of the 
riches contained in the spirituality of the Christian West. In a paper given at the 1988 meeting of the 
American Benedictine Academy we read: 

Light from the East on our own Scriptures and Christian mystics is 
teaching us that the inner transformation process begins with contemplative 
prayer. Non-Christian ways of prayer and meditation are aiding us in fostering 
our Christian, Benedicitine spirituality by helping us rediscover aspects of our 
own spirituality which have been neglected during the past centuries, and 
therefore are bringing us to a deeper understanding and appreciation of 
the mystery of life in Christ. 5 

Looking at the changes made in the way contemplatives pray leads to the question, "Does changing the 
manner of prayer affect praying itself?" All of the nuns with whom I discussed this question replied that 
they believe it does for them, but they preferred not to make generalizations regarding so personal and 
unique an experience. Owing to the interaction between body and soul in the accomplishment of all 
human acts, however, it seems likely that the process of renewal affected not only the manner in which 
contempltives pray but also, to a greater or lesser degree, the experience of prayer itself. 

ConcCusion 

Beneath the pluralism of expression in terms of observance and custom, contemplative religious women 
remain committed to their ideal. How these women interpret the effects of renewal in regard to 
enclosure, silence, asceticism and prayer depends on such conditions as the age and number of their 
community's members, the number of vocations they receive, their economic stability and the availably 
of ministerial personnel. Judging by their responses to my questions concerning the contemplative life, 
however, all the nuns with whom I spoke or corresponed agree in their fundamental understanding and 
appreciation of their vocation. Contemplative women endeavor to forget themselves as objects of 
reflection in order to find themsleves and all humankind in Christ. They see their life as one of prayerful 
intercession, reparation and freedon through grace. Their lives continue to bear witness to Christ's 
promise, "Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall see Cod." (Mt 5:8) 



Notes 

1. The survey was conducted by Sister Lilla Marie Hull, MM., in preparation for a lecture entitled "The 
Concerns and Needs of Contemplative Religious Women Today," delivered at the National Conference of 
Vicars for Religious, March 11, 1989. I am grateful to Sr. Lilla Marie for graciously sharing her survey 
notes and lecture with me. 

2. The Documents of Vatican II , edited by Walter M. Abbott, S.J. (New York: America Press. 1966V p.471 



150 



3. From a lecture delivered at the 1971 meeting of CCA, cited within the lecture entitled "Contemplative 
Life in Carmel: A Review of the Renewal Years," given by Sister Jean Alice McGoff, O.C.D., pp. 4 and 7. 

I am indebted to Sr. Jean for her kind permission to quote from her lecture. 

4. With Light Step and Unstumbling Feet , 1977, pp. 3 and 5. 

5. Sister Mary Catherine Wolfe, O.P., "The Following of Christ, II Regular Observance," One Mind and 
Heart in God: Dominican Monastic Life , ed. by Sister Mary Catherine Wolfe, O.P., (Conference of Nuns of 
the Order of Preachers of the United States, 1989), p. 83. 

6. Sister Pascaline Coff, O.S.B., "Eastern Influences on Benedictine Spirituality," Cistercian Studies , 24:3 
(1989), 262. 



POETRY 



and 



ROOK REVIEWS 



151 




The NajI 




ThEy macJe me stronq, Thick ANd Ionq 
Heavy ancj twIstecI, ROuqh-sldEd, cold. 

HAMMEREd, bEATEN, dull-pOlNTEd 

GRlNdEd, so tMat I could turn ANd hold 

Into spllNTEREd wood 

Or whATEVER ThEy sMAshEd me Into. 

I CAME WlTh MANy OThERS. 

ShoVEd ANd CARElESSly ThROWN TOQEThER IN A hEAp 

TO AWAlT My TURN. 

An uNkNOWN dESTlNy. 

ENdlESS WAlTlNQ... 

But I kNE\v It would coME..soMEdAy. 

BITTERNESS QREW..I hAd UlN SO lONQ, WAlTlNQ. 

ColdNESS dEEpENEd, STlffNESS, shARpNESS. 

IN dARkNESS, UNAblE TO SEE, MOVE OR ACCOMpllsh, 

My Iron TASTEd Iron, bluE biTTERNESs on My tonque. 

INdlffERENCE plTTEd AQAlNST RUST. 

NOT MANy Of US lEfT..SOON NOW.. SOON. 

ThE Lid WAS TORN ASldE. 

A hANd SCRUMMAQEd, fEEllNq fOR A STRENQTh I hAd. 

I WAS UfTEd 

ThROWN Into a pockET dARkNESS, saqqInq, danqInq, dlNkiNq 

I STlffENEd... EXpECTANTly. 

My Iron RollEd aqaInst OThERS. 

StINQINQ hARdNESS, COld INdlffERENCE 
All SWlNQlNQ TO A fATE ... AN ENdlNQ. 

It wasn't a Ionq wait. 

ToSSEd ON ThE QROUNd, I RollEd Into UqhT 

WlTh A fEW OThERS, In sTlcky dusT. 

ThERE WAS A lOT Of NOlSE. 

I COUld NOT SEE, IT WASN'T My NATURE TO SEE 

But ONly to fASTEN ANd hold 
In Rigid bliNdNESs. 

OThERS WERE fiRST.. 

Stranqe vlbRATlONs shook ME 
WhERE I Uy. 

ThERE WAS A SUddEN dROp Of WARMNESS ON My hEAd 

I shuddEREd! 

GRAbbEd, ANd pOlSEd Ab0VE A SOfTNESS 

My Inner coyness TREMblEd, RECOlUd, pulUd apart, 

SCREAMEd !! 

Even I, Iron as I was, kNEw ThE Touch. 



152 





It Took a few TERRiblE blows 

TO SENd ME SMAShiNq ThROUqh. 

AqaInst My hEAd tIhe rInqInq spARks 

Till My fEET hlT ThE wood ANd duq In .. dEEp. 

AN AWESOME SOfTNESS ClOSEd AbOUT ME 
SACREdNESS STOOd UpON My STRENQTh. 

MY GOD, MY GOD .. I SHRIEKED ! DID THEY NOT KNOW? 

I pullEd, STRAlNEd, REAChEd .. SEEklNQ RElEASE. 

But tIhe patient fEET hsld me. 
So hElplESS, so hElpUss.. 
A shAfT of Iron wRAppEd In shATTEREd paIn. 
Must I de RESlqNEd to pUy My dESTlNEd roIe? 

1 WAS MAdE TO hold, TO fASTEN 
SElECTEd, chOSEN .. 

God.. I MUST .. I MUST. 

I flRMEd OUT TO qlVE SUppORT 

TO ThE plNlONEd fEET ASTRldE My DACk. 

ColdNESS TURNEd TO WARMTh AS flESh SEARChEd 

For some hold of coMfoRT. 

NO .. I COUld NOT SEE .. I WAS ONly IRON. 

But qUd I was foR My loNq Rouqh JIrmness 

ThAT hEld SO ClOSE ThE TATTEREd fEET 

1 would hold HIm as loNq as He wllUd 

SENdlNq Up ThROUqh ThE REddENEd STREAM 
My OWN SllENT AdORATlON. 

WlTh My polNT bEddEd In ThE wood 

I OpENEd WldE TO hold ThE WANlNq STRENqTh. 

O such wElqhT .. such wElqhT. 
Eons, eons .. on My uNbENdlNq ore. 
O awesome dESTiNy! I fouNd My pUcE 

ANd COUld NOT Wish fOR MORE. 
ANd whEN I AM pullEd OUT 

ANd Uld AsidE.. 

I Will NEVER bE ThE SAME 

For REdEEMlNq Blood hAS wAshEd My Iron 
ANd MAdE It cIean. 



Sister Mary Angela 
Bronx 



153 



GENESIS 



My words are not my own now. 

I am the words of the one who made me. 1 



One 

In the beginning was the Word 2 

and the Word created 

the deep in me 

a formless void 

dark covered 

with darkness 

only the Word was there, 

in black shadow hovering. 

Then there was light in me, 
which the darkness vied 
but could not overpower. 

And I saw the light was good, 

And I watched the Word 
divide darkness from light 
and name them. 
So it came, my first day. 



Two 

In shadow and light 
I flowed endlessly 
until the Word 
vaulted and clove me 
into two parts: 

the depths 
the heights 

the second day 



154 



Three 

Then the Word established land in me. 

firma terra 

earth on which to settle and be constant 

and in my stable ground, 

the Word shaped trees 

that bore fruit 

with seeds in their very middles 

and plants and flowers sprung up, 

red, yellow, green, blue 

all with seeds, seeds! 

Ground and life 
the third day. 



Four 

Then the Word said, 

"I will conceal infinity from you." 

It made separate lights, 

one hot orb for day 

and at night a moveable circle 

which grew like a white thought, 

then faded to silence 

And stars were made 
to sparkle me 
reminding me, 

"There's a festival today!" 
They made me forget the boundless. 

Steady the sun, the moon, the stars, beat their rhythm, 

the fourth day. 



155 



Five 

Then the Word created 

birds in me 

some that hung on wind 

some that closed their wings 

to dive for prey. 

And it made creatures that moved 

in my depths: 

Leviathans, and clawed shells 

that crept on the bottom 

and simple swimmers 

wearing flesh of gold 

and green and grey. 



they multiplied 

and I was afraid the fifth day 



Six 

But, the Word would not stop. 

It pulled from my deep, black core 

hooved creatures, serpents 

and beasts 

howling and digging. 

Trembling, I ran through 
this creation and cried out 
like a poet in a stone tower, 

"What hurts the soul 
My soul adores. 
No better than a beast 
upon all fours." 3 

And, desolate, I crawled into a cave of earth. 

But, the Word found me 

It said, "What are you doing here?" 4 

It took me into the world again 

and formed me into the shape of itself. 

Yet, I was the dust of a soft pencil 
Thin, frail letters on a page 



156 



Until the Word blew gently 

on the edges of my letters, 

my symbols, 

my signs. 

It entered me 

and I knew the Word was God 

God was in me 

I was in God 

I was a word holding creation. 
And he whispered in a soft breeze 
keep me here inside you 
and I shall give you dominion 
over all that I have made in you." 

I did not cover my face like Elijah 5 
I called like Tieresias, 
like John from water: 

"Laudate Dominum, my darkness and light 
Laudate eum, my heaven and earth. 
Praise God, my trees and plants. 
Praise God, my birds and beasts. 6 
Give praise, my people, 

praise Him. 

the sixth day 



Seven 

On the seventh day 

The Word rested in me 

and blessed me 
and made me holy. 

I would be a master craftsman, 

delighting in the Word; 

day after day 

Ever at play in its presence 

at play everywhere in its world. 7 



S. Mary Ann of Jesus, O.P 
Fatima, Portugal 



157 



NOTES 

1. John 14:24 

2. John 1:1 

3. W.B. Yeats, "What Hurts the Soul" 

4. Gen. 3:9 

5. 1 Kings 19:13 

6. Psalm 148 

7. Proverbs 8:30-31 



158 



ALIVE IN TRUTH 



A new world alive in truth, 

in peaceful possession of your first beauty, 
teach us, Americas, lush with virgin soil, 
to become white as shepherd's sheep wool, 
noble as purple mountain majesty. 

Alive in truth, 

fired fast in chains, 

red skins bound fast in slavery, 

teach us to forgive, 

as you did, peoples of the South and of the North. 

Ground us unto meal in your spirit, 

in life, liberty, happiness. 

Alive in truth, 

rained upon in poverty, 

over shadowed in suffering, 

you witness to us now, 

you moisten words of grace, 

you utter parables long forgotten, 

you breathe forth the odor of wisdom 

in your solid, stolid tree trunk courage. 

Alive in truth, 

come unite us Montesinos, Cordoba, las Casas, 

Bertrand, Rose, Martin, John, Mazzuchelli, 

ride swift your mounts through our slick paved streets 

Whistle forth the watch dog of Dominic. 

send forth the biting torch of truth, 

the rekindling flame of integrity. 

Come, Great Spirit! 
Brand us unto new life. 



Sister Mary Regina, O.P 
Farmington Hills, MI 



This poem honors the anniversary of the founding of the Americas 
as well as the spiritual and missionary work of Dominicans in the 
New World. The Dominican persons mentioned were heroic in the 
faith and in their efforts for peace and social justice toward 
the indigenous of the land. 



159 

The Book of Revelation: The Open Book of Prophecy / by Charles Homer Giblin, SJ, 
1991, Collegeville, "A Michael Glazier Book", (Good News Studies, vol. 34). 

The theme of our Assembly, pointing as it did toward the 21st century, brought 
to mind a phenomenon that often comes along at the turn of the century namely, 
the use of apocalyptic imagery and vocabulary. We who by vocation become 
steeped in God's Word are frequently in touch with the apocalyptic in our 
everyday reading of Scripture. The great New Testament work cast in the 
literary genre known as "apocalypse" is, of course, John of Patmos' Book of 
Revelation. If you have found this intriguing work to be a "sealed scroll 
which no one can open", you will welcome the new insights provided in The Book: 
of Revelation: The Open Book of Prophecy by Charles Homer Giblin, SJ. 

Thanks to Fr. Brian Davies, OP, the Bronx community has had the privilege of 
monthly Scripture lectures by Fr. Giblin who teaches at nearby Fordham 
University. Perhaps by pointing you in the direction of his commentary on 
Revelation we can share his expertise with you. 

Fr. Giblin contends that an understanding of the eschatology and literary 
structure of Revelation provides the key that unlocks its meaning, and his 
entire book can be said to revolve around those two pivotal points. The 
originality of his contribution is to be found in his convincing approach to 
the entire trajectory of Revelation as a unified whole, both theologically and 
as a carefully-wrought literary composition. This is spelled out especially in 
his treatment of the cohesive thematic of God's Holy War of Liberation as 
Gospel. A comparison with other commentaries, such as that of Adela Yarbro 
Collins in The New Jerome Biblical Commentary , shows the unigueness of Fr. 
Giblin 's thesis. Using Fr. Giblin 's book as a guide, a careful study of 
Revelation makes one appreciate the intricately orchestrated and highly 
sophisticated piece of inspired writing we have in this word of God in the 
words of John. 

The author brings to this little paperback the fruit of thirty years of labor. 
Though intended for a fairly wide audience, it is by no means a guick-study, 
but the effort involved in mastering its 231 pages is well rewarded. For 
convenience, the entire text of Revelation is included. The footnotes and 
parenthetical notes give many bibliographical references that are enriching to 
pursue. I found it useful to photocopy the outline-precis provided on pages 
12-18 and to keep this close at hand as I studied. Its presence eliminated 
some of the frustration that is inevitable in studying such a complex work. 
Fr. Giblin gave us two additional charts not found in the book and these are 
helpful study aids also. I would gladly mail a copy to anyone who is 
interested . 

You will notice a few typos here and there but most are obvious. If I were to 
make any criticism at all it would be to comment on the awkwardness of some of 
the sentences. Parenthetical information is sometimes inserted in such a way 
that a rereading is needed in order to grasp the somewhat obscured meaning. An 
index would be a helpful addition. But these are minor points. 

I think that by your study of Fr. Giblin 's book you will find yourself drawn 
more deeply into this revelation: of our Father, "the Enthroned"; of the risen 
Lord Jesus, "the Pierced One", "the victorious Lamb"; and of the Spirit, the 
source of prophetic inspiration who "speaks to the churches". It is they who 
draw us and enable us to say: "Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving 
and honor and power and might belong to our God for ever and ever. Amen 1 " 

Sr. Lee, OP, Bronx 



CONFERENCE OF NUNS OF THE ORDER OF PREACHERS - UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



Member Monasteries 



CORPUS CHRISTI MONASTERY 
1230 Lafayette Avenue 
Hunts Point, Bronx, NY 10474 
(212)328-6996 

MONASTERY OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY 
335 Doat St. 
Buffalo, NY 14211 
(716)892-0066 

MONASTERY OF MARY THE QUEEN 

1310 W. Church St. 
Elmira, NY 14905 
(607) 734-9506 

MONASTERY OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT 
29575 MWdlebelt Rd. 
Farmington Hills, Ml 48018 
(313)626-8321 



MONASTERY OF ST. DOMINIC 
375 13th Avenue 
Newark, NJ 07103 
(201)624-2769 

MONASTERY OF OUR LADY OF GRACE 

11 Race Hill Rd. 

North Guilford, CT 06437 

(203)457-0599 

MONASTERY OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY 
543 Springfield Ave. 
Summit, NJ 07901 
(908)273-1228 

DOMINICAN NUNS OF THE PERPETUAL ROSARY 
802 Court St. 
Syracuse, NY 13208 
(315)471-6762 



MONASTERY OF THE IMMACULATE HEART 
1834 Lititz Pike 
Lancaster, PA 17601 
(717)569-2104 



DOMINICAN NUNS OF THE PERPETUAL ROSARY 
14th and West Sts. 
Union City, NJ 07087 
(201)866-7004 



MONASTERY OF THE ANGELS 

1977 Carmen Ave. 
Los Angeles, CA 90068 
((213)466-2186 

MONASTERY OF THE INFANT JESUS 
1501 Lotus Lane 
Lufkin, TX 75901 
(409) 634-4233 

CORPUS CHRISTI MONASTERY 
215 Oak Grove Ave. 
Menlo Park, CA 94025 
(415)322-1801 

Affiliate Member Monastery 

LES MONIALES DOMINICAINES 
1140Frontencac, C.P. 479 
Berthierville, Quebec 
Canada JOK 1AO 



ST. DOMINIC'S MONASTERY 
4901 16th St., N.W. 
Washington, DC 2001 1 
(202)726-2107 

MONASTERY OF THE MOTHER OF GOD 
1430 Riverdale St. 

West Springfield, MA 01089 
(413) 736-3639 

Affiliate Member Monasteries 

ROSARY MONASTERY 
No. 2 St. Ann's Rd. 
Port of Spain, Trinidad, W.I. 
(809) 62-47648 

MONASTERY OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY 

Rosaryhill, Cainta 
Rizal, 1900 Philippines 



Conference Council (1992-1996) 

Sister Mary Thomas, OP (Farmington), President 

Sister Miriam, OP, Vice President Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart, OP, Secretary 

(Elmira) (Menlo Park ) 

Sister Mary Martin, OP, Councillor Sister Lee, OP, Councillor 

(Summit) (Bronx)